Of all the handheld Zelda titles, the Oracle games are undoubtedly my favorites. I have lovely memories of sitting in the back of my parents’ car trying to figure out that infernal fetch quest on Crescent Island in Oracle of Ages, as well as spending a lot of time trying to get Maple to finally drop that Piece of Heart. I never had the chance to play Oracle of Seasons very much, so I never got to experience the unique password and game linking system.
However, I recently learned something about these two games that I didn’t expect. The duo was originally supposed to be a trio, and the third game was to be called The Legend of Zelda: Mystical Seed of Courage.
As you may know, Oracle of Ages starred the oracle Nayru, and Seasons the oracle Din. Mystical Seed of Courage would have starred the oracle Farore. Unfortunately, due to the game’s cancellation, Farore now only exists inside the Maku Tree, relegated to simply giving Link help with the password system that connects each game. Not only that, but there seems to be no information on Farore’s personality. Given that the other two oracles have something to do with music when they’re introduced — Nayru with her singing and Din with her dancing — I have to wonder if Farore would have played an instrument. Maybe she would play a flute of some kind?
Originally, the Oracle games didn’t even have the “Oracle” moniker at all. They were instead meant to have a title from each part of the Triforce and were going to be called the Triforce Trilogy. Each of the games has their own unique gimmick: Seasons has the changing of the seasons, while Ages has the ability to travel through different points in time. Mystical Seed of Courage was going to have a time element wherein certain puzzles could only be solved depending on the time of day. This means that the concept for Mystical Seed of Courage was originally similar to what Ages ended up being.
Ages was originally intended to be a game that focused on color as its gimmick, which I assume would be similar to the color dungeon mechanic from Link’s Awakening. This idea was, as you probably guessed, scrapped later on. This being said, quite a few puzzles in Ages’ dungeons do have a lot to do with color, so whether or not these puzzles were leftovers from the color gimmick or simply taking advantage of the Game Boy Color’s graphics is left to speculation.
With regards to game titles, Oracle of Ages was originally planned to be titled Mystical Seed of Wisdom, while Oracle of Seasons would’ve been titled Mystical Seed of Power. As previously stated, this was because each game originally meant to have a part of the Triforce in their titles. Although they no longer bear these titles, they still clearly have remnants of these titles in their gameplay: Ages is the puzzle-oriented game and Seasons is the action-oriented game. This makes me wonder what Mystical Seed of Courage was to be. Perhaps it would focus more on the narrative or more sidequests?
it still leaves me wondering about what it would’ve been like to have these games be a set of three instead.
As for why the third game was canceled, there are supposedly a couple of reasons. First, linking between three games proved to be a huge challenge for Flagship, the games’ developer. This makes sense with the way the passwords would work, as it would probably take a lot more time and effort. The second reason is apparently that the Game Boy Color was on its last legs around the time the game was being developed, as the Game Boy Advance was fast approaching its release. Ultimately, the decision was made to just cancel one of the games, which in turn meant that the entire Triforce theme had to be scrapped.
The development of these games, as well as the canceled third game in the series, is something I find absolutely fascinating. The game has a ton of references to the original Zelda because at some point there was going to be a remake of it during development. There’s also the fact that Vasu in the games refers to the rings as being made from “Mystic Seeds”, which is highlighted in red, most likely being an Easter egg to the game’s original titles.
As I did more and more research on this, I was shocked by how much information there is for these titles. I’ve always been fascinated by the development of games and how ideas shift and change, whether it’s due to a design choice being too ambitious or because sacrifices have to be made just so a game can release. Though the original contents of Mystical Seed of Courage were spread into both games, it still leaves me wondering about what it would’ve been like to have these games as a set of three instead. Although we’ll never know, I’m very glad we have the two wonderful Oracle games, which were clearly filled with a lot of love and dedication from the hard-working developers who made them.