In the early eighties, a programmer named Yoshiki Okamoto began his career working for Konami. His most notable works during his tenure with the company were Time Pilot and Gyruss – both of which provided ahead-of-their-time takes on the shoot ‘em up genre. Despite the success he brought to the company, Mr. Okamoto’s employer was not satisfied, as he had allegedly been asked to create a driving game instead. The disagreements that resulted from this eventually resulted in his termination. Mr. Okamoto proceeded to join Capcom in 1984 where he proceeded to direct the creation of more classic arcade games such as 1942, Gun.Smoke, and Hyper Dyne Side Arms. At the end of the decade, he began overseeing development of Capcom’s games as a producer. During this stint, his greatest accomplishment was when he recruited character designer Akira Yasuda. Together, they ended up developing two of Capcom’s biggest hits: the 1989 beat ‘em up, Final Fight, and the 1991 revolutionary fighting game, Street Fighter II.
In 1997, Mr. Okamoto founded an independent company known as Flagship. Two years later, he proposed an idea to Shigeru Miyamoto, one of Nintendo’s most prominent figures. Partially owing to the success of Nintendo’s new Game Boy Color console, which included a port of the original Super Mario Bros., Mr. Okamoto wished to remake The Legend of Zelda for the platform. He was eventually asked to create six games: two based on earlier installments with the remaining four being original entries. However, problems arose when the team led by Hidemaro Fujibayashi wanted to skip developing the remakes and start developing a new Zelda title straight away. Furthermore, The Legend of Zelda was deemed too difficult for a new generation of enthusiasts, and the Game Boy Color’s screen couldn’t scale its resolution; they would need to have rooms scroll in order to display them properly. To accommodate these limitations, they ended up making more and more changes until they inadvertently created an entirely new world map. This led to a fruitless cycle wherein the scenario had to be reworked constantly to match the modifications.
Dismayed by the fact that they had been spending money for a year with no meaningful results, Mr. Okamoto asked Mr. Miyamoto for help. The latter came up with the idea for Flagship and Capcom to develop a trilogy of Zelda games. This hypothetical trilogy would be dubbed the “Triforce series” – named after a relic that fulfills an integral role in the series’ setting and backstory. The artifact is composed of three triangles, representing essences of power, wisdom, and courage, and each installment was to be associated with a component. The first of the three games was unveiled at Nintendo’s SpaceWorld trade show in 1999 under the tentative title of The Legend of Zelda: Fruit of the Mysterious Tree – Chapter of Power (Mystical Seed of Power for the Western release). In this installment, the reoccurring antagonist, Ganon, kidnapped Princess Zelda and stole the Rod of Seasons, throwing Hyrule into disarray. The second of the games, Chapter of Wisdom, was intended by the developers to focus on color-based puzzles. Finally, Chapter of Courage would make players use the times of day to solve puzzles.
This project too hit a stumbling block, and as per Mr. Miyamoto’s suggestion, the team scaled back with the goal of creating a duology instead. The two remaining games were released in February of 2001 – shortly before the launch of the Game Boy Advance. Its Western releases followed later in the year. The first of the two games was released under the name The Legend of Zelda: Fruit of the Mysterious Tree: Chapter of the Earth. Overseas, it was retitled The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons. Did Capcom live up to Nintendo’s high standards and create something worthy of bearing the Zelda banner?