Review by SuperSmashBro13
Majora's Mask puts on a lot of masks of excitement and frustration, boredom and discovery
Majora's Mask is one of those "you love it or you hate it" games. It has a number of good points but just as many flaws. You get as excited and happy as you do frustrated and bored. It's a strange thing.
PLOT: 8/10. Have you ever heard of somebody saying that Majora's Mask has a "dark" plot? What does that mean? To put it simply, it means that the plot is full of much evil, shadow, and sadness. The "darkness" of this game is topped only by Twilight Princess. Being a direct sequel to Ocarina of Time, the game opens with a young Link riding through the forest on his horse, Epona. It is implied that he's searching for "an old friend," Navi. Along the way, he's ambushed by a mysterious Skull Kid wearing a demonic-looking mask, who steals his ocarina, his horse, and even turns him into a lowly Deku Scrub. You may think that's the extent of the problems, but there are a lot more troubles, one that can't be ignored. As you will see when you arrive in Clock Town in the heart of Termina, a new country, the Skull Kid has drawn the moon out of its orbit. In three days, it will crash into the mystical land of Termina and destroy everything. So not only are you a Deku Scrub without a sword or items to be used, but you've got a giant piece of rock threatening to crush you from above which you must stop. As you can clearly see, it sets up the story for a lot of pressure and suspense. Other woes, like aliens attacking a farm and the recent deaths of some important figures from other races, add to the mix.
GRAPHICS: 9/10. For the Nintendo 64, the graphics are actually pretty good. More color and detail has been placed into certain objects like trees and grass. There is, unfortunately, a big downer. Instead of new people, new objects, new graphics, must of it has been copied directly from Ocarina of Time. The characters are here. Mr. Ingo from Ocarina of Time has been split into three people: The Gorman Brothers and a sad circus performer down on his look. Similarly, both the young and adult versions of Malon have been turned into Romani and Cremia, respectively, on Romani Ranch. The Cucco Lady from Kakariko Village is now known as Anju and works at an inn. The wise man dressed in blue walking around in Kakariko Village is an astronomer in Clock Town. You'll recognize a gajillion faces from Ocarina of Time. That's not to say that there aren't some new ones; by all means, there are some new people about. Kafei. The Bombers Club. There are some new people, but it's not just people that have been copied. Fire looks the same. Ice looks the same. The enemies from Ocarina of Time look the same. Trees look the same. Link's spin attack looks the same. Really, a good 75% or so of the graphics have been copied from Ocarina of Time. Fortunately, though, Link has changed a bit. Link himself looks different--though only slightly--and the Hero's Shield that has starts with is a nice change from the clunky Hylian Shield or the wimpy-looking Deku Shield. In other words, if you're looking for originality in the way of graphics in Majora's Mask, you won't find a great deal of it. As a teeny little side note, explosions have been changed, and dang, do they look good.
I wonder how many people have been thinking of the Great Fairies during this explanation of the graphics? Great Fairies return in this game, too. Ugly as ever. You know, I think the game's creators honestly tried to make them pretty. I think they just tried a bit too hard and made them absolutely hideous. The Great Fairies look just like they did in Ocarina of Time. Which is a bad thing.
SOUND AND MUSIC: 8/10. Link has grown. That is what you'll think when you hear Link for the first time. A good number of his grunts and yells have been exchanged for some slightly older and more professional sounding voices. Other than that, not much has changed at all in the way of voices or sounds, just like the graphics. When you get rupees, cut grass, explode something, shatter ice, solve a puzzle, swim, or whatever, it's all just been copied from Ocarina of Time. The music itself is not anything to drop your jaw over. For the most part, before you saved a certain area from danger, a slow, boring theme plays. (I think they intentionally stretch the monotony to tell you how boring a poisonous lake is.) But boy, when you stumble into something good, you stumble into something good. The Clock Town music changes depending on the day. On the first day, it is bright and cheery. On the second day, it still has the same notes and everything, but as it's raining, it does make you think of sadness and gloom. On the third day, when the moon's about to land and kill you all, the music's a beat faster with a slow, menacing tone in the background. It really does make you feel the way you're supposed to. And let's not forget awesome themes like the Deku Palace's fierce, tribal music, or the powerful music of the Pirate Fortress. Majora's theme is a slow, sinister tune that can sometimes send shivers down your spine. The first dungeon's theme is an eerie-sounding tribal theme with human voices shouting and screaming along to the music to keep you on edge. And best of all, perhaps, is the boss music. It's there for all big bosses (save Majora's Mask itself), and it's a fast-paced, action-packed tune that gets the adrenaline going.
GAMEPLAY: 8/10. Here is where the game both succeeds and fails. First of all, you need a Nintendo 64 Expansion Pack to play the game. The game isn't necessarily long, but the other factors, like ten million sidequests and the going back in time thingy, require the big baby. "Wait, what's the going back in time thingy?" It's one of the game's bad points. The only possible way to save in the game is to get your ocarina back and play the Song of Time. This saves your game, but brings you back to day 1. That means repetitiveness to the max. While that allows you to avoid dying on the third day and to do certain sidequests which may only be followed during certain times, it gets old. It also gives you a sense of constant pressure. Imagine somebody behind you, saying every two seconds, "You've got to hurry. Come on, it's almost nighttime. Keep moving. Time's almost up. You've got to hurry." It gets very stressful after awhile, when all you want to do is hang around, but you can't, since the moon will kill you if you do.
The game borrows the gameplay from Ocarina of Time. Same controls and everything. In case you don't know much about the Zelda series, it's mainly a mixture of fighting and puzzles. There are enemies aplenty, but each dungeon you enter, big or small, has a series of puzzles you must solve to beat the dungeon. These puzzles are usually along the lines of, "I need to light that candle to open the door, but there's no fire around. How do I light it?" Or perhaps, "I need to get across that pit, but there's no bridge. What do I do?" There are many rooms per dungeon, and it takes, on average, perhaps forty-five minutes to an hour to complete one dungeon. Big or small. That's not counting, of course, if you have to restart time for fear of being crushed. There are four major dungeons. Each dungeon contains a special item, like a bow, and a boss to be defeated. You must defeat each boss if you want to challenge Majora. Between each dungeon, you usually must solve one or two little enigmas (like how to calm a crying Goron baby) while traveling on the road to the dungeon. In this manner, it takes a long time to finally reach the game's end. Like I said, there are enemies all around the place. They range from being pathetically weak and easy with no defenses at all to great enemies of power and defense like the fire-breathing Dodongos. Some enemies can only be defeated by certain means, like attacking their backsides or stunning them first. Few enemies actually need to be defeated, but you often get teeny rewards, like a small amount of money, some more magic, arrows, or whatever, and you can rid yourself of a pesky foe.
The game's sidequests are many. There are twenty-four masks to collect, with only a few being actually necessary to complete the game. The other masks range from useful masks like the Blast Mask, which lets you explode briefly at the expense from some health (unless you block it with your shield), or the seemingly-useless All-Night Mask, which actually helps you earn a Piece of Heart. Pieces of Heart help extend your life meter. Also, if you join the Bombers Gang, you can help other people and record it in a book. (Ironically, they're called the BOMBERS Gang, and yet they live to help people.)
The whole three-days and restart-time thing might have been a good idea had it been used wisely. After beating the game, nothing's changed; the moon is still there, and you are still pressured. Usually after you beat a game, you feel obligated to lounge around and chill out for a bit. Not so with Majora's Mask; you're still pressured. There is no resting. The smart thing to have done was to, if you were going to include the three-days and restart-time features at all, get rid of it after you beat the game. No more madness or panic. Maybe have a sort of feature where, after beating the game, you could a), chill out, or b), go to the three-day mode. They just kind of discarded that and gave us all constant pressure.
What's also a nice addition, however, is that you can go back and redo bosses. Oh, gosh, how that feature is missed in other Zelda titles. I would love to go back and beat the crud out of Zant in Twilight Princess, but you're simply unable to. In this game, due to the restart-time feature, you can fight bosses again. Better yet, there's no maneuvering through the entire dungeon to reach it; you just step into a space of light, and you get warped there.
And speaking of bosses, they are very well-done. They require a bit of strategy and thinking before tackling them. When they're well-armed and guarded from all sides, what do you do? Your accompanying fairy, Tatl (whose brother is, coincidentally, named Tael--Tattle Tale), will give you hints as to an enemy's or boss's weakness, but it's up to you to try and figure out what its true weakness is and, furthermore, how to exploit that weakness.
REPLAY VALUE: 9/10. While it's true that the pressure is not off after beating the game, there is still much to be done. There are Pieces of Heart to be collected; getting four of them will extend your health by one heart. Masks can also be collected; you get a special prize of sorts by battling Majora's Mask with all of the masks and trading them to "play" with the children running around the place. You can also help people in your Bombers Notebook, scour out secret caves, fight old bosses, and hang around all you want until it's time to go back to day 1.
CONTROL EASE: 8/10. The controls are borrowed exactly from Ocarina of Time. If you've already played Ocarina of Time, skip this section. Otherwise, continue. A controls the "action command." What that is, is a command that does various things depending on where you are. Standing next to a person and pressing A may make you talk to them. Standing in front of a box may make you pick it up. Standing in front of a door may make you open it. B will make you swing your sword. The left, right, and down C buttons will make you use items assigned to them, and C Up makes you talk to Tatl when she wants your attention and makes you look around. Z locks onto things, people, and enemies--you can switch how this is used by making it so that you must hold Z or that you need only to press it once to lock on and once more to stop locking on or switch to another enemy. (Personally, I prefer holding, because if there is more than one enemy in front of you, pressing Z to stop locking on may just make you switch between the two enemies.) Press L to turn your map off, and hold R to guard with your shield. Press Start to go to the start screen and view the map, see your progress, switch items, etc..
GAME LENGTH: 9/10. With a game like Majora's Mask, it's honestly hard to say. With all the sidequests and dungeons, it could take awhile, depending on which ones you do before the game's climax. The game should take you at least twenty hours to complete, and certainly more if you plan to get every mask and Piece of Heart.
TOTAL SCORE: 58/70. It's pretty good. With nothing below a seven, it's a pretty good game.
FLAWS: There's the constant pressure, as if I hadn't made that clear by now. You can never rest while the clock is ticking furiously against you. Plus, if you were supposed to wait until a certain time before getting a mask or doing something important and you miss it or fail it, guess what? You'll have to wait again. And while you're waiting, it sure is boring. (Link from Faces of Evil: "Gee, it sure is boring around here.") The lack of much originality in graphics and sound can also be a bother. Many people despise Majora's Mask just because of the two aforementioned flaws: The time thing and the unoriginality thing.
CONCLUSION: Some people think Ocarina of Time is better than Majora's Mask. Some say it is vice versa. I honestly don't know. Majora's Mask, I think, was catapulted high into the air with its great ideas (tons of sidequests, the shape-shifting into many other races), but the additional weight--flaws--sunk it down to Ocarina of Time's level. One is not better than the other. Unless you downright hate the game, Majora's Mask is not better or worse than Ocarina of Time.
As for getting the game...it's a very nice addition. Unless you plan to test it before buying it, do not rent it. What can you accomplish easily with a system like Majora's Mask's by renting? If are a Zelda fan, get the game. If you're new to the series, start with an easier, less-pressured game like Ocarina of Time.
Rating: 4.0 - Great
Product Release: The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask (Collector's Edition) (US, 10/25/00)
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