Review by Braben
"Horribly frustrating and terribly boring, I can`t believe Nintendo made this."
I firmly believe that Majora`s Mask was released because of the N64 critical situation, there is little doubt about that for me, however that is not the reason why this game is so awful, after all Nintendo is, overall, the greatest video game company ever, so rushed or not this game had instant classic written all over it. What went wrong then?, for me it is clear as well, Nintendo was trying to innovate and while trying so they also did something completely unusual for them, screwed their game horribly.
In Japan this game was going to be called Zelda Gaiden, gaiden means side story in Japanese. In the end that wasn`t the final title, but it would have been a perfect one because that is what this game is, a side story.
At a first glance that`s terrific news because it means we won`t have to deal with the same story we have been dealing since the first Zelda came out in 1986, but that`s being way too naive. True, the story is somehow different from the standard Zelda fare, the core of the story is completely different, but there are so many elements from the previous installments saying we are in front of something really new would be simply absurd.
I don`t really know why this game needs the Expansion Pack because it is merely an more colorful version of Ocarina of Time, everything else has the same quality despite what some say about better effects and stuff, if that is true then the improvement is so insignificant they shouldn`t have bothered. In any case that means we are in front of a truly beautiful game with most of the charm and the fantastic design the previous game had.
Not only Ocarina of Time was the epitome of music for a Zelda game, that soundtrack is often remembered one of the best ever. Majora`s Mask is a completely different story despite a couple of themes from the previous adventures (most notably the classic Legend of Zelda theme in the overworld) and Clock Town`s superbly catchy theme.
The few new themes lack punch, they sound like the typical new generation themes where all you hear is a couple of sounds every now and then. The fantastic atmosphere often overshadows the lack of real music, but that is hardly an excuse.
Nintendo went from utter perfection to.. whatever this is, and all due to the inclusion of heinous The Clock.
This is one of those cartridges with some sort of clock system, which means shops open at certain hours, specific events occur only at certain hours, some people appears only at certain hours and, well, you know the rest. However that is just the beginning, the real problem is that we have only three days (one hour is approximately one minute here) to beat the game, otherwise, a time loop will take place and most of the stuff we have accomplished until that moment will vanish and we will have to start again.
There is no need to say there are some things that can be stored and we can also play a couple of songs to accelerate/decelerate time, but it is the same, it is not possible to play properly anyway, the sense of urgency is unbearable, there is not time to explore, no time to think, there is not enough time to do anything. Majora's Mask is a horribly frustrating experience. And everything works in this way, we have to do the right thing at the right moment in the right day or you will have to repeat everything all over again, not to mention sometimes we have to repeat everything again one way or another because that`s the only way to continue.
Aside from this ``minor`` inconvenient, the gameplay is basically exactly the same from Ocarina in Time, which is not as good as it sounds because we are talking about a Zelda game, which means the same weapons, the same items and, to sum up, the same everything, even the new world we have to explore has the same inhabitants (including Gorons and Zoras of course) from the last game, so maybe it is not all that new to begin with.
The only real new features this game has are Link`s altered shapes, which means he can morph into a Goron or a Zora to reach those places only a Goron or a Zora blah blah blah, you know the drill.
Oh yeah I almost forgot that Link is a child again, this is not something that important, and I wouldn`t have cared if the game were any good, but it is not, so I am going to complain about that as well: I liked him better as an adult, way better.
You know, I paid 120 dollars for this game (heavens bless Europe), so I guess no one can accuse me of bashing it, I needed to like it, it was simply imperative, but I couldn`t, this was the biggest rip off ever in my life. What is worst about this game is that it is not a bad Zelda game, it is nearly unplayable in its own way and I am never going to understand those who can spend hours and hours playing this nightmare, which is probably your case.
Reviewer's Score: 3/10 | Originally Posted: 02/14/04, Updated 10/23/06
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