Review by Kevgamer302

"The underrated Zelda that deserves to see a “Dawn of a New Day”"

Over 14 years ago before the game was even released, at first glimpse it appeared as if it was going to be a kiddy sequel to Ocarina of Time because of the screenshots we all saw. Link's child state from Ocarina would be the main protagonist. No adult version of Link and no sign of both Gannon or Princess Zelda. The emphasis on wearing fun lovable masks as the main theme didn't help either. So what did we get when the game finally came out? To my surprise and many other gamers, we found ourselves confined in a gloomy world on the brink of total destruction. The culprit, a falling moon that will soon crash into the planet after three days. The moon was given an ominous face too and would appear to be staring directly at Link sometimes in certain areas. The subject matter of NPC (non playable character) reactions on how their daily lives alter each day because of the world's about to end scenario, is why this game is no child's play. By far Majora's Mask is the most darkest, oddest, mysterious and emotionally in depth Zelda game ever created. How does it hold up against today's standards? I think it speaks for it's self. Personally I feel it's beyond good and long overdue for a remake (Nintendo 3DS perhaps?), but I only wish to provide information about this game in my review so you can be the judge whether or not Majora's Mask is something you'd ever consider playing.


Story


Shortly after the events of Ocarina of Time, Link as a kid embarks on a personal quest searching for a friend whom he departed with after defeating Gannon. Although its never mentioned who that friend is (speculation it's Navi the fairy) it doesn't matter because suddenly your ambushed by a Skull Kid wearing Majora's Mask. He steals your beloved horse and ocarina instrument and curses you by transforming Link into a Deku Scrub creature. You navigate your way to the inside of a clock tower where a character named the Happy Mask Salesman is waiting for you. Apparently he has the power to return you to your normal self, but will only do so once you help the man get back a precious item the Skull Kid stole from him. Having no other choice you accept his deal and step outside to find yourself in Clock Town, a central location in the very middle of the land of Termina. (somewhat parallel world of Hyrule)


From here you explore the town trying to find the Skull Kid's whereabouts, all the while as three days go by the moon seems to be getting closer towards the ground. Could this be the Skull Kid's doing? You confront the Skull Kid eventually on the night of the final day, but unfortunately it's already to late. Termina is doomed and there's nothing you can do to stop the moon from falling in only a matter of minutes. You vaguely learn from the Skull Kid's fairy partner that by traveling to the different regions of the land, the four “ones” who reside there are the world's only hope for survival. Link manages to steal back his ocarina and plays a familiar melody, the Song of Time, and thus travels three days backwards in time to the dawn of the first day. Having a second chance to do things differently, your real journey now begins. You must tackle the temples scattered on each corner of Termina, gather the four so called “ones” that dwell inside, and do this all within three days. But with only 72 hours remaining can you accomplish such a task?


Gameplay


The most innovated playing mechanism which sets this title apart from other Zelda's is the three day cycle (roughly 50 minutes of real time gameplay). At the bottom of the screen you are forever reminded about the clock which keeps track of the time and day you currently are in. When it reaches towards the end of the final night you'll know the world's about to end as the music changes to a panic tempo and screen will start shaking, just look up at the sky and the moon says it all. Whip out your ocarina and play the Song of Time to return to the first day. Upon doing so you'll lose minor items like arrows, bombs and rupees.(although rupees can be saved by storing them at the bank in Clock Town) The things you do get to keep permanently however are key items such as weapons, bottles, learned songs, pieces of hearts and masks. Whenever you time travel everything is reset so nobody will remember you. Any interactions you had with people will be wiped clean as if it never happened. All temple progress and side quests also reverse back to the beginning, but as stated earlier any key items you might have obtained are kept, including Boss Remains that serve as proof you've already slain the temple boss. If there was a particular temple or side quest you enjoyed you can do it all over again for fun, but this also allows you to find something new you might have missed the first time around. The most important factor of playing the Song of Time is that it's how you save the game. There are also Owl Statues you can activate throughout the land of Termina but only serve as a quick save function. So if your N64 console is turned off you will lose all current progress accumulated and reverted back to the dawn of the first day. Song of Time is the only true method for saving. Time is of essence and if you feel like you don't have enough don't fret, there is a song that can manipulate the flow of time, shifting the internal clock to slow down tremendously.


NEVER LET THE CLOCK RUN OUT OF TIME. This is the same as getting a game over. If the moon succeeds in falling it will eliminate more than just Termina by erasing all unsaved game progression along with it.


Masks play an important role. There are many to discover. Some will grant you an extra ability while others only serve a purpose in order to obtain a Piece of Heart through side questing. Then there are a few that seem to have no meaning at all but just neat to have. You may be wondering why bother collecting all the masks if some are useless? Well lets just say you'll receive something truly great once you've acquired the complete set. The masks that do give an enhancement are quite useful. For example, the Bunny Hood causes you to run faster while the Blast Mask creates explosions without having to waste bombs. The cooler masks this game has to offer are the three special masks that allow Link to transform. One is a Deku Scrub which you start the game off as and the other two are a Goron and Zora. While being a Deku Scrub you can blow bubbles to shoot at enemies and sprout upwards flying into the air after entering flower pods. The Goron has super strength to demolish bolders and roll over bad guys using a hard shell made of spikes. Lastly the Zora can swim really fast in water and even walk on the bottom of any aquatic terrain without worrying about air supply, plus you've got two fins on both arms that can be thrown like boomerangs. Each transformation is not without their own weaknesses. A Deku can't survive fire and doesn't fare well falling off heights. Zora will freeze to death touching ice and susceptible to fire also. Goron will sink to the bottom of any deep water source and drown. Each incarnation of Link has a unique playing instrument as well. Deku plays bag pipes, Goron gets bongo drums, and Zora has a guitar made out of a large fish skeleton. I'd like to also point out a deeper meaning behind each transforming mask. When you find those masks they are actually the spirits of dead people embodied into the form of masks. In a sense you are wearing faces of the deceased. Very morbid thought.


Controls


Not much has changed if you're familiar with the basic controls of the previous game, Ocarina of Time. You have three slots to equip weapons or items and switch to first person viewing mode using the C-buttons. Pressing B will swing your sword and may perform combos when pressing B multiple times. Using R blocks attacks with your shield. You can roll by pressing A to give yourself short sprint boosts. When enemies are approaching, you can Z-target them for accuracy. A new feature is when Link is about to jump off a ledge, continue holding up on the controller and sometimes he'll do a front flip or summersault.


Graphics


Majora's Mask uses the same graphic engine from it's predecessor and is an updated improvement. From the snow covered mountains of Snowhead to the vast murky ocean of Great Bay, the scenery is top notch. Everywhere you go textures are well polished. Far off in the backgrounds you'll notice stunning details and in places like Clock Town a good amount of characters can fit on the screen all at once.


Music


The songs throughout this game really help set the mood and tone of the world. The melancholy music from the poisonous swamps of Woodfall and eerie tune from the ghostly canyons of Ikana fit perfectly. Most songs you'll hear compliment the environments and the ones you learn on your ocarina have distinct personality. What you hear is depressing at times but in some places things are a little more upbeat than others. Best of all is the return of the original Legend of Zelda theme as you roam across the land of Termina.


Replay Value


This game has only four main temples and some mini dungeons in between that are required to complete in order to gain access to the main temple entrances. You might think it makes the game relatively short in comparison to other Zelda‘s. However, this is the strong point in Majora's Mask because it allows for loads of mini games and side quests to keep you busy. Rather than moving from point A to point B, most of these side quests are time consuming and expand over the course of three days. Some only become available during certain times and specific days, while others might only become available after another requirement has been fulfilled in a separate side quest. This concept surely adds more length and challenge. The residents of Termina are very different from their Hyrule counterparts and are less dual and generic as portrayed in Ocarina of Time. (Remember I mentioned earlier this game takes place in another dimension of some sorts?) The people living in this hectic world conduct daily complex routines in a never ending time loop (because of the whole time travel thing) and depending on Link's interactions with their lives, things will alter. Your actions have consequences for good or worse. Since there is a lot happening all at once with the many people you'll encounter, the game lets you have a notebook which can be viewed when bringing up the collectible screen on the pause menu. The notebook keeps track of everyone's personal events to help clear up any confusion. Finishing side quests usually earn you a Piece of Heart which increases your health, new masks to wear, and stuff like extending your magic meter and upgrading swords. By the way, this Zelda game has some of the coolest looking swords to acquire.


I'll try not to spoil too much, but there are a couple interesting side quests I'd like to discuss. I won't reveal in detail but rather what happens in the aftermath. It's just way to intriguing of a topic to ignore and basically sums up the dark undertone side of what type of game Majora's Mask is all about.


One revolves around reuniting a pair of lost lovers. By the time they find each other, it's already the final night and the moon is about to fall. Even knowing they'll perish, both gladly accept the inevitable and die in each other's arms. Even sadder is when Link fails to complete the last segment of the side quest. This results in the guy to never show up. The woman will still sit on her bed staring at the door while anticipating for him to walk in the room at any second, but if only you could just bring yourself to tell her the truth. As you play the Song of Time to escape she's left waiting there with false hope and dies alone. (unless you decide to keep her company till the very end.)


The other is about two sisters living on a ranch. After their side questing story lines are done, there is a bonus scene that can be viewed on the final day. The younger sister is excited that her big sis is letting her drink a special type of milk only intended for grown ups. We can only make the assumption that there is something else inside the milk (alcohol?) and suggests that the older sister wants her younger sibling to be blissfully unaware of her death when the moon plummets.


Wow! Disturbing subtext for a Zelda game. Wait, isn't Majora's Mask supposed to be “E” rated?


Final Comments


I forgot to mention if you do not have the Expansion Pak accessory for the N64 console you can't play Majora's Mask, period. If this is a problem for you there is another copy of the game that was ported over to the Zelda Collector's Edition for the Gamecube and you may also download Majora off the Nintendo Wii shop's virtual console. There is no reason why you can't play this game. I'll admit it may not be for everybody and impossible to be considered the best Zelda ever, because this game was always meant to be one giant side story to the franchise. Lets face it, there is no traditional mythology with the Triforce and missing the main villain Gannon, and of course the princess of Hyrule herself. Even so, Majora's Mask is an unforgettable experience and a true masterpiece with an enduring legacy that's already lasted way longer than three days.


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 07/24/14

Game Release: The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask (Collector's Edition) (US, 10/25/00)


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