Review by ice beam
Originality? In a N64 Zelda?
In 1998, Nintendo released Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time, the very first 3-D incarnation of Zelda. Despite what people say (most claim it is perfect) it was a poorly designed game with many gameplay flaws. Possibly the main flaw of Ocarina of Time was that it was very unoriginal and the story was terrible and confusing. Yet people still claim this to be the "Best game ever." In 2000, following the success of Ocarina of Time, Nintendo created Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, the long awaited sequel for Ocarina of Time. But many fans were shocked (and most disgusted). It was nothing like Ocarina of Time. The gameplay and story were totally different! This left many Zelda fans angry. They didn't want this. They wanted a game just like Ocarina of Time. I find this game, however, to be the best of the 3-D Zeldas.
To me, Majora's Mask stands in the same area that Adventure of Link was in. Both were the second game on the consoles and were disliked very much. They were disliked because they tried something different from the normal formula and ended up being hated for it. Well an interesting fact you should know is that I dislike the original Zelda and Ocarina of Time, yet I love Adventure of Link and Majora's Mask! I like innovation and originality, unlike most Zelda fans.
Perhaps what I like about this game the most is that it is ORIGINAL, unlike its big brother. There are just so many new and cool things about this game.
First of all is the story. A story that doesn't involve Zelda, Ganondorf, Hyrule, and the Triforce? What has this world come to? It starts off where Link is looking for his friend in the Lost Woods after the events of Ocarina of Time. He gets ambushed by Skull Kid and he takes Link's ocarina. Link chases him down to an alternate world called Termina. In three days, due to Skull Kid's doing, the moon above will crash into Clock Town and destroy the land of Termina (hint the word Terminal). I'm glad to see the story being took in a different direction. The Zelda and Ganondorf story is getting old and I'm glad I didn't see any of them in the game. But there is one scene where you see Zelda though.
Just like in Ocarina of Time, you have a fairy partner to assist you. But thankfully, Navi is long gone and replaced by someone named Tatl. Tatl was once one of Skull Kid's fairies, but Skull Kid left her behind and she joins up with Link. At first she is bossy and doesn't like you, but she will lighten up. Tatl comments are more interesting than Navi's. She will say stuff like "you don't know about ........ and stuff like that. When she wants to talk with you, she will let out a ringing noise, rather than Navi's "HEY!"
I also found the overworld to be quite original and fun to go through. The center hub is a place called Clock Town. This place holds a realistic town. People have there own schedules and certain events will only happen at certain times. While Clock Town is in the center, there are four other areas, each in one of the compass directions. The area's are much interesting than Ocarina of Time's areas. You have a swamp, a snowy mountain, an ocean, and even a canyon where the undead live! But more importantly, the main field is smaller, so you won't have to travel too far to get to other areas.
Perhaps the biggest difference in this game is it's clock system. When you first arrive in Clock Town, a clock in the low center will start ticking. You have seventy-two hours before doomsday. Each hour is about a minute in time (meaning a total of seventy-two minutes). Using your Ocarina, you can warp back to the beginning of the three days. But unfortunately, you lose your items. But ONLY replenish-able items, such as bombs, rupees, and arrows. Other things are kept safe. When you go back, everything is reset. People still have their problems, puzzles remained unsolved, bosses undefeated, etc. Their are two hidden songs that lets you speed or slow time.
The save system is also strange too. There is a "soft" save and a "hard" save. You can only permanentely save after you have gone back in time. When you save temporarily at an owl statue, you can come back to that point whenever you want. If you cut it off without doing a "soft save, you will go back to the beginning of the first day again. This isn't a problem, but the game tends to freeze up a lot (especially in the Collectors Edition).
The controls remain exactly the same as they did in Ocarina of Time. The graphics look slightly better because of the expansion pack. The music in this game, however is better than Ocarina of Time's. Every area has a theme that is the same, just played with different instruments. While this may sound repetitive, it actually sounds pretty good. The two best themes in the game are Clock Town's theme and the music during the final six hours. Other noteworthy themes are the Deku Palace, Pirate Fortress, and Ikana Castle.
One of my favorite concepts in this game is the ability to change into other forms. In the beginning of the game, you will start off as a Deku, who can spin, blow bubbles, and shoot out of flowers (I know it sounds useless, but it does help solve puzzles). Later in the game, you will receive the Goron mask and (my personal favorite) the Zora mask. At first, it just sounds like a gimmick. But it is far more than a gimmick. Each of these masks helps you solve puzzles and get past obstacles. Each form also has it's own strengths and weaknesses. For example, the Goron is slow and can't float, but he is very strong and can roll into enemies. The Zora can swim, cut, and electrocute enemies, but can't handle a fall from tall heights and is vulnerable to fire and ice. There is also a hidden fourth transformation mask, but that is all I will reveal.
A majority of your inventory remains the same from past Zelda games. A new addition though are the masks you receive. Besides the three (or four) transformation masks, the other masks don't have an important use. They are mainly used for side quests. Speaking of which, this game is flooded with side quests. Most of them are pretty fun, such as racing Gorons and beavers, reuniting two lovers, or rescuing a little girl and her cows from aliens. Many sidequests lead to stuff like bottles, heart pieces, and other masks. Speaking of which, now your inventory can hold six bottles rather than four, like in other games.
One huge complaint about this game is the fact that there are only four dungeons. Thats right. FOUR. Most people complain about the lack of dungeons. I prefer how the dungeons in this game focus on quality rather than quantity. Each of the four dungeons are well designed and fun to go through. For example, I absolutely despise Ocarina of Time's Water Temple, yet I immensely enjoyed Majora's Mask's water temple (called Great Bay Temple). The fourth dungeon is possibly the best dungeon in the entire Zelda series. I won't spoil anything, but the concept in its design is truly awesome. The dungeons still go by the same formula though, so don't worry. Bosses have truly gotten an upgrade from Ocarina of Time. They look huge and ferocious. They are pretty tough too. They also focus on the old-school strategy of hitting them as many times as you can rather than Ocarina of Time's tedious and boring strategy of constantly exploiting the weakness.
This game has possibly the best replay value of all the Zelda games. Due to everything getting reset when you go back in time, you can do anything over again. Was there a sidequest you enjoyed? You can replay it. Was there a dungeon you enjoyed going through? You can replay it. Want to fight a boss again? You can replay him (You don't have to beat the dungeon to get to the boss, only if you have already beaten it). Everything will reset, so you can do everything. You could play through the entire game again if you wanted to!
It is a shame really. That most people tend to ignore this masterpiece for that overrated piece of trash that is Ocarina of Time. It took Ocarina of Time's 3-D formula and simply improved upon. I found everything in this game to be fresh and original. The gameplay, the masks, the world, the dungeons, the sidequests, the music, etc. This is one of the greatest games on the N64. No, one of the greatest games of all time. I hope that a sequel for this game will come out whenever, but I doubt Nintendo will make one since most of the Zelda fanbase just want games like Ocarina of Time. If you have an N64, get this game as soon as you can. You won't regret it.
FINAL SCORE - 9.8 out of 10
Fun Fact: Did you know that Majora's Mask and The Playstation 2 were released on the very same day (which was October 26, 2000)?
Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
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