Review by Rikashi
"Messed up big time? No worry, just go back in time and redo it!"
We all know the drill. Zelda gets kidnapped by Ganon, the Triforce shatters into pieces and Link has to save the day. No offence, but this story has been repeated for at least a thousand times. Majora's Mask, MM for now, takes a very different take on this concept, as a gem in the crowd. The game takes place direct after OoT and continues this plotline. Link goes off on a personal journey to find an old friend, but suddenly gets mugged by the Skull Kid (you'll know him from OoT) who's wearing a strange mask. He steals Epona from Link and runs of into the unknown forest. Angered, Link chases after him. But instead of getting his beloved horse back, the Skull Kid curses Link into a Deku and gets away. Shortly after, Link meets the Mask Salesman (also from Oot) who asks him to retrieve Majora's Mask, the mask Skull Kid was wearing. But, Link only has three days to do this before he travels further. In return, the Mask Salesman will help him from his curse. It won't be long before Link finds out why he has such short time to complete this task.
Link starts his new adventure in Clock Town, a busy and living town in the heart of a parallel dimension from Hyrule, named Termina. Apparently, the town is preparing for the annuel Carnival of Time, a festival which offcourse draws people from all over the world to town. Link, unfortunately does not have any time to relax and enjoy the festivities. The Skull Kid, gone mad with the power of Majora's Mask has pulled the moon out of his orbit to crash into Clock Town. The friggin' moon! Never before did a Zelda game had such a feeling of oncoming disaster, a apocolypse ready to destroy the world. It's up to Link to stop this from happening, because after three ingame days (72 minutes) you WILL face a nice little movie of the moon crashin down. Game over. You don't want the game to end like this? Luckily there is a vital part of the gameplay so you can relive these last days over and over, but I'll discuss that later. For the story: it's a lot darker then any Zelda game has ever been, and the whole game really has that feeling of 'healing old wounds'. If you have never bothered with a plot in Zelda games before, you'll be pleasantly surprised by this one. I wont spoil anything, but this certainly is one of the best plots in the series.
Now this is where the game really shines. MM has three aspects that make the game shine out in the crowd. First of all, there is time travel. Because the moon is going to crash in three days, you'll only have limited time to do your thing. That's why the first time you play through the game you retrieve your ocarina and remember the song of time. Whoom! You warp back to the first day. That's the meat of the game: you try to do as much as possible in the three days you have, before warping back to the dawn of the first day. If you think just 72 minutes is not nearly enough, you can learn a song which triples your time. And one which lets you skip ahead in time, so you certainly have as much control about time as you would want. Watching how people spend the last three days of their live is pretty entertaining on its own, let alone try helping them with their troubles. Early in the game you get a notebook which records the troubles of people you meet, at what time events take place and which rewards you can get. Even with that, keeping track of when you have to help who is pretty confusing, but also very rewarding.
The second (and also third) gameplay element I was talking about is masks. Skull Kid isn't the only one who wears facial cover in this game! During the course of the game, you'll collect many masks all with their own uses. For example, you get the Bunny Mask which makes you run harder or the Stone Mask which make enemies ignore you like you're a stone. Some don't serve any use except for some sidequest, which is a minor con. Then, there are also the special masks. After you get relieved from your Deku form, the curse gets captured into a mask so that you can turn back into one whenever you like. During the game, you'll find more masks that let you morph into other forms of typical Zelda creatures. This alone makes this game unique, but there is a lot more that seperates this one from the crowd. Besides that, Link also has a lot of moves of the previous game. He may be a child in this game, but he retains a lot of moves he could when he was an adult. Horseriding for example, or bowshooting. You won't be stuck with those weak slingshots and deku sticks (though they're still here!) but you can use every weapon adult Link could. It's too bad that not that many new items were added, just two or three if I recall correctly. Link however, moves more fluid then ever. Add the movesets of the new forms and you still have a lot of tricks upon your sleeve.
Majora's Mask is a pleasure to the eye. There. I said it. MM may be one of the most visually pleasing games for the N64. Away with the pre-rendered areas that still were in Ocarina of Time. Away with the grainy trextures, they all had their update now. MM uses the same engine as Oot but with upgraded graphics. Clock Town and the surrounding locales are all looking beautiful. Characters and enemies look very clear and bosses have never been so colourfull. The game itself was also designed with some pretty interesting areas in mind, like a canyon filled with death and lingering spirits. You'll find yourself playing just to find out what the next area is going to look like. It's clear that the visual producers loved their job, and you can see it all back into the game. Overall, the game is a delight to the eye so this section does deserve a ten. Check out the screenshots if you don't believe me.
And not only your eyes will be pleased. MM has some very memorable sounds and songs. The ocarina has returned from Oot, and brings some wonderfull songs with it. Just like the Song of Time from Oot, Majora's Mask has the Song of Healing. When this tune is first played when you enter the old clock tower you know you're playing one of the best games from that era. Other locales have some very catchy tunes too, just search for the Deku Palace theme. The componist has pulled of miracles again this time. A lot of screams and talking effects from the first game are recycled, but some new were added too. If you liked the audio from Oot, you'll this one. They're both pretty much the same, but knowing what a great game Ocarina of Time is that is only a compliment.
You won't get tired of this game for a long time. The main quest is a little short with only 4 big dungeons, but there are so many sidequests and areas to explore you'll be amused for hours. The one thing that will stop you from replaying the game soon is that the timetraveling can get kind of boring. This game is one you'll play through, put it away but want to replay it a year or so later. If you do everything without looking at Gamefaqs (which is very hard, figuring it all out by yourself takes some thinking!) you'll be spending around 25 hours.
Pros and Cons
Let's list some important facts about the game. Some of the best pros include the unique, dark plot and the timetraveling. The graphics and audio are both great, so this game scores big on the technical aspect. Then there are the masks. They really refresh the series so thats another big plus for the game. Now for the cons. The dungeons can be pretty frustrating at times, and the time limit doesn't help either. The game is also shorter then most Zelda's, but with all the sidequests the lifespan's still pretty big. After all, this game is exactly what I said in the intro: a gem in the crowd.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 01/05/10
Game Release: The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask (AU, 11/17/00)
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