Out of all the games I’ve played in the Zelda series, this is the most taxing experience for reasons I will explain. It’s one of those games where if you go in blind and play the game for a while, you’ll get scared, throw the cartridge in the fire and run from your house. It’s one of those games where you may need to do a bit of research and playing at least a bit of Ocarina of Time to actually understand the game…or I’ll tell you because this was my second playthrough; my first was the gaming equivalent to a Vietnam flashback.
The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask (ゼルダの伝説 ムジュラの仮面 Zeruda no Densetsu Mujura no Kamen), developed and published by Nintendo and was released in 2000 worldwide. Like Ocarina of Time, I’m going to play the 3DS version, co-developed by Grezzo and Nintendo and published by Nintendo, it was released in 2015 worldwide. This was in demand by everyone after the release of Ocarina of Time 3DS and Nintendo barely said anything about it until 2014, when they announced it officially.
But before I talk about the game, let’s talk about its short development. You see, Majora’s Mask was supposed to be an expansion for the shortly-lived Nintendo 64DD, known as Ura Zelda. This expansion would take what was there in Ocarina of Time but change some levels in different ways…well that may not have been the case since, according to Shigeru Miyamoto, Ura Zelda was basically the Master Quest version of Ocarina of Time and Zelda: Gaiden, was a completely different project. It’s possible then that Ura Zelda would have been the Master Quest version of Ocarina of Time, which would eventually be released for the Nintendo GameCube as a bonus for those who pre-ordered Wind Waker (Or you got the Limited Edition version of Wind Waker in Europe we lucky gits). Zelda: Gaiden on the other hand, would eventually be Majora’s Mask.
FYI: If you’re playing the Nintendo 64 port, make sure you have an Expansion Pak, this is a small cart you put in the front of the console to add some more memory to your games. Donkey Kong 64, Perfect Dark and this game needed it, otherwise it won’t work.
It’s been a few months after Ocarina of Time, Link leaves Hyrule to look for his fairy friend, Navi, that famously (and supposedly) annoying fairy that journeyed with you in that game. Apparently Navi just up and leaves you for some reason. Link rides on his horse Epona through some foggy wood until he’s attacked by Skull Kid and his two fairy friends Tatl and Tael (Tattletale, GET IT?). Welcome to the Ghetto Link, some thug robbed your ride and your stuff…or the Ocarina.
Anyway, Link follows Skull Kid into a deep cave and, in a very creepy moment, Link is cursed by Skull Kid, turning him into a Deku Scrub. Skull Kid and the fairies leave Link with Tatl making sure Link doesn’t follow the rest…until the door closes on her and she’s left with Link, and I assume he’s saying “WHAT THE F*** IS GOING ON?”. So Tatl apologises and asks Link to take her back to her brother Tael and they leave the cave and find themselves inside a clock tower, where they meet the ever so creepy Happy Mask Salesman (who was also in Ocarina of Time). Apparently, Skull Kid attacked the Salesman and stole the Majora’s Mask, giving him terrifying powers (did you see that awesome video by the way?.
The Salesman asks Link to get the mask back…in 72 hours. So why 72 hours? Well, you go outside and see that lovely looking moon out there with his big, beautiful face. The moon will come closer to the town by the minute, and once the 72 hours is over, the world is destroyed. WOW!!! That’s…unusual and bloody dark for a Zelda game, but in terms of being dark, that’s not the only thing that’s got some grit.
AAAAAAND this is where the madness starts if you’re the first time player. So you’re in the land of Termina, far away from Hyrule. Your hub (sort of) is Clock Town; you’re still a Deku Scrub, probably going OH S*** WHAT DO I DO? OH S*** WHAT DO I DO? OH S*** WHAT DO I DO? OH S*** WHAT DO I DO? OH S*** WHAT DO I DO? OH S*** WHAT DO I DO? So for this review, I checked a walkthrough to see what I needed to do. So Deku Link runs some errands until he manages to get to the top of the clock tower, during the third and final day when the moon is about to crash, where Deku Link scuffles with the Skull Kid, but only for the Kid to drop the Ocarina, in which Link takes back. So Deku Link plays the Song of Time after Zelda telling us it in a flashback, sending Deku Link back to the beginning of the first day.
Back inside the bottom of the clock tower, we see the Salesman again and plays the Song of Healing, which Deku Link joins in to play too. This in turn transforms Link back to normal. The Salesman asks Link to pass the Majora’s Mask back to him…which Link forgot, and the Happy Mask Salesman turns into Disturbingly Angry Mask Salesman, but calms down and tells Link why it’s important to get the mask back. Apparently it was used by ancient tribes as part of rituals. The person who wears it, gains uncontrollable powers and becomes a douchebag…and it’s now worn by a child who wants to bring the apocalypse to the world. So it’s up to Link to find four mysterious beings to stop the apocalypse.
About 971 words and counting? I’ll now talk about the gameplay so that’s it for story at the moment.
I mean, you’re trying to do this in three days (in real time, it’s about 54 minutes, so under an hour), how the heck can you do all your quests as well as the side-stuff? And this is where you need the Song of Time, as well as time management. You see, the gameplay and puzzle solving from Ocarina of Time is still retained…so on to the new stuff. At any time, you can play the song to go back to the first day; playing the same song backwards will slow down time, giving you even more time to do stuff, so if you’re going to the next dungeon, this will feel like you have all the time in the world.
The consequences of going back in time however, is that any side-missions you did wouldn’t have happened (no time paradox at the moment), any consumable items you have got will disappear as well as the rupees you were holding (no time paradox at the moment). But any masks, heart pieces, upgrades, bottles and some other important stuff will still be in your inventory, even after going back in time (TIME PARADOX IS GROWING). In fact, if you have any rupees, you can store them in a bank, and once you go back in time, the rupees you stored in the future remain in the bank in the…past (WELL DONE LINK, WE HAVE A TIME PARADOX). Consumable items, especially rupees can easily be found anyway so you’re never empty on anything.
When you know how the game works, it becomes less stressful and you enjoy the remainder of this dark and depressing ride. There are four dungeons you need to go through, each with their own puzzles, bosses and whatnot. Each defeated boss will leave a mask and I’ll explain those later. Each of the dungeons will have a lot of complexities and it can feel long and difficult. And I’ll say again, only four dungeons, which makes my job easier…sort of.
You see, the dungeons don’t carry the plot like Ocarina of Time, it’s the side-quests, depending on how you progress, you will need to go around and help most of the people in Clock Town one way or another during these three days. Each of them will have a scheduled event and you have to figure out how to respond to them and when to do it in time…but because I’m playing the 3DS port, you get a notebook, which will record what happened in a scheduled event and when it happened, which will let you easily plan ahead and give you a chance to do it without being stressed out figuring out if you’re doing this at the right time. Let me tell you, this is an absolute life saver and it’s just awesome. But in doing so, you get to know the townspeople and what they have to say about life and all sorts.
I remember saying in Link’s Awakening that NPCs were just there to liven up the land you’re in and nothing more, giving you no emotional feelings towards them despite the predicament of the plot. But in Majora’s Mask, it’s the complete opposite due to having to get to know the townspeople. Every time you complete events, you get rewarded with all sorts of random goodies, and most importantly, masks and heart pieces, you only get one heart container in a dungeon, so you NEED to do these events if you want to survive.
But when it comes to the people, you really feel for them. They have character, they have charm and you well up knowing that these are their final days on this planet and it motivates you to help them in any way possible and you’ll be rewarded for it too…until you go back in time with your reward in hand, never needing to do the side-quests ever again, even if the people really need your assistance, HEHEHEHEH! But even then, you still have those moments of interactions with the people and…well, it pulls you into this uncomfortable world of doom and gloom, making Termina one of the best game worlds in game history.
You also get to do mini-games of the sort, and any issues that you may have had in the N64 version have been improved for the 3DS port, especially those that involve bows and quivers…though it can be time consuming since time is still ticking as you’re doing them so that can be an issue and a half too…though playing Song of Double Time will let you skip forward to certain times of the remaining days…or wait and get bored.
In terms of the game world, it’s more close and less spread out then Ocarina of Time, and I really like where the game goes with this since you can get from A to B in no time and it doesn’t get boring like Ocarina of Time when exploring a vast open field. The design of it is completely different to Ocarina of Time, it can be strange, colourful, wild and…dark, it has more character to it and thus, it’s much more memorable. It really fits the mood this game is trying to convey considering you still have a timer and a beautiful-looking moon that’s falling down slowly.
But we have one final feature to talk about. Yep, I saved the best until last: the Masks. After you’re cured at the beginning of the game, you get the Deku Mask and you can wear it and take it off at any time, the same goes for the rest of the masks. Some side-quests will reward you with masks either by doing another side-quest, or something random. Some masks will be an extension of Link as a whole, but others will let you complete side-quests. In my opinion, these masks are VERY important to get, because some masks will in turn, get you better masks.
What are my favourites? Well there’s Blast Mask…you blow up and you don’t need bombs…though you lose health using it so watch out. You get a mask from a music man and go to a farm to make Cucoos grow and get the Bunny Hood…THIS IS THE MASK YOU NEED!!! Because this will make you go much faster than normal, eliminating the sluggish speed of Link when he’s running about. The Stone Mask will let you walk past guards in situations…I don’t know how it works in that world. But you also have masks that transform you in one way or another, I’ve already talked about the Deku Mask, but you also get the Goron Mask and the Zora Mask. Each of these masks will give you an ability that you need to use to progress through the game.
The graphics, from what I saw on the N64, is really impressive, but I guess it’s also thanks to the Expansion Pak that we get graphics like this, though some parts may not have aged well. The graphics on the 3DS version is absolutely fantastic, a vast improvement over the N64, though I feel that some creppy parts of the game have disappeared, probably due to the dated graphics of the N64 port making it look creepy by default. The music is also fantastic, with a lot more darker themes and that first boss though…WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT?
Overall, The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask…can I really recommend this to anymore? Of course I can, if you’re willing to understand the game’s mechanics. But to me, it’s an experimental game that took what was perfect and added something new that made you remember this game. Had I not understood the game, I would have just done an ‘I Tried’ review of it and that’s something I don’t want to do. I will say it’s one of the best 3D Zelda games I’ve played so far because it was different enough to experience something I’ve never experienced before.
Majora’s Mask, for years made me think that this was something creepy and nothing more, but it was more than that, it was still creepy, but emotionally heartfelt at times, it’s this kind of game I may never experience in other games and I can understand why it has its fans…it’s also ten times better than Ocarina of Time, there, childhoods ruined, don’t care, bye.
You can get it on the Nintendo 64, Nintendo GameCube via The Legend of Zelda: Collector’s Edition (which I also have too), Wii and Wii U Virtual Console and the Nintendo 3DS.
Next week: I’m continuing the handheld session with the Oracle games.
Well done Every Gamer, you wrote a Majora’s Mask review without mentioning Ben Drowned.
THERE WAS A REASON WHY I DIDN’T MENTION IT. AAAAHHHH!!!!