Review by Kutulu
"A below-average Zelda is still a classic"
I am one of those people who beleives Zelda games should be held to a higher standards than typical video games. The whole series is a classic the minute it hits the shelves. So I originally judged this game assuming it's going to be one of the best games ever written, and working from there. For this review, I tried to be a bit more fair <g> but we'll see.
Graphics: This game, like Donkey Kong 64, requires the expansion pack due to the number of graphics. I didn't notice much improvement over Ocarina here (though those graphics were already impressive), but I did notice more/more complex characters and movements, plus WEATHER!@# In fact, my roommate wandered into the room while I was playing and her first comment was ''wow, it never used to snow in Zelda''. Weather kicks ass. These are easily an 8.
Story: As usual, Nintendo busts out a killer story for the Zelda series. The plot device of the moon crashing into the earth, and the masks having special powers on this new world, is a major new twist onto the almost-starting-to-get-boring Zelda plot line. And the backstory for all the characters, the subplots, etc. is a nice touch. 10
Play Control: The controls here are nearly identical to Ocarina, meaning you can literally pick the game up and start playing in seconds. The addition of special skills for the masked creatures gives a spice of variation, and I LOVE running around as a Deku spin-killing the hell out of stuff. As with the previous N64 game, Majora's Mask manages to stuff a LOT of functions onto one their controller without requiring you to know 150 different 4-button combinations. Definitely a good thing. 10
Game Play: Here's where I start to get disappointed. Overall I found that some of the things I thought were cool plot devices were irritating game play devices. Thinks like the dozens of masks you need to wear at different times (not counting the 3 morphing-masks, which at least have visible effects everywhere!) turned some of the sub-quests into basically a guessing game. And the notebook quests, I went through nearly 2/3 of the game before even figuring out what they were all about.
Finally, there's the moon. The major plot device in the game is that you have 3 days to win. After that, the moon crashed into the world, and the game is over. Of course, it's a bit more complex, as the Ocarina allows you to back time up 3 days and save your game. Since it's impossible to save your progress without resetting all your quests, I'm GLAD they stuck in the 'sleep-mode' gamesave feature. However, I found myself VERY distracted by the total reset done to the world when you travel back in time. And being overly analytical, I found myself wondering WHY, for example, all the money you were carrying went away (even though most of your items did not), but the money you had deposted in the bank was still there BEFORE you deposited it. There were a lot of big logic-holes in the game in this area, and though the whole concept of time-travel may introduce some of them implicity, this game was far more annoying that Ocarina of Time. I found it to be annoying, and much more of a distraction than an asset.
My main problem was that, each time I saved my game, I *KNEW* that all the little quests and such I had completed were being reset. Even if you only have to get some item once, I *KNEW* that whole mini-quest was reset and I'd have to do it again to see the results, that all the people I'd talked to would forget me, etc. That annoyed me, and many times I just saved and quit on the spot. After a few days of playing this became less of a problem, but I honestly beleive that Nintendo, of all people, could have handled this aspect of the game MUCH better. In fact, it was so irritating that it overwhelmed my impression of things like the fact that NPC's had schedules, and the weather changed, and such for a good long time. It was enough to drop the game-play score to a 7
Overall Ranking: If I had to rate this game against *only* the rest of the Zelda series, I'd probably give it a lower score, maybe in the 5-6 range. I didn't like it as much as Ocarina of Time, though in some cases it's technologically superior. I would rank this above Adventures of Link (my least favorite) and the Gameboy game, but well below the other three.
Of course, as far as the REST of the console game pantheon goes, this game is far and away one of the best ever. Lacking a Metroid for N64, and seeing how putried the Castlevania 64 games were, this is a breath of fresh air.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 10/30/00, Updated 10/30/00
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