Review by TakerVersion1
"Playing Majora's Mask is Redundent... But Still Awesome."
If any Zelda game has been long-overdue for a port, it was Majora's Mask. Please, stop right there, don't e-mail me. I know that Majora's Mask was available on the GameCube but that version suffered from notorious problems, too many to name. It's okay though, because our port for the Virtual Console is great. Anyway a little over ten years ago Nintendo released a little ditty called Ocarina of Time for the N64. This game was and today is still hailed by many as the best game ever, and a recent poll on a certain gaming website even shows this. About two years later a sequel was released using a slightly updated version of the Ocarina engine. Many people began to speculate if anything could top Link's first 3D adventure through Hyrule. Majora's Mask did not disappoint, improving from Ocarina in nearly every aspect of the game. Mask is widely considered the deepest and darkest of all the Zelda titles, and rightfully so.
The main plot itself is not worth a ten rating let me tell you. The game is pretty simple; about three months after returning to his youth Link set out on a journey to find a old and dear friend (hinted at and presumed to be Navi from Ocarina). Similar to LA before it, MM strays away from the typical Zelda plotline that we all know by heart, and brings Link to a new world facing a new crisis. During his travels Link is ambushed by the mysterious Skull Kid, who after stealing Epona and Link's treasured Ocarina, turns him into a hideous Deku Scrub using the power of Majora's Mask.. After playing this prank on Link the Skull Kid leaves, accidently forgetting one of his fairy friends, Tatl, behind. Link now finds himself in Termina, a land threatened to be crushed in three days time by the moon thanks to the work of Skull Kid and the Mask. Yet Link is able to regain his Ocarina, and using the Song of Time, can stop and speed up the flow of time, and return to the very start of his adventure.
It is however, the sideplots that involve the main plot that warrant Majora's Mask a ten out of ten. Many of the sidequests are incredibly engrossing, one even taking the entire three day cycle to complete. It is because MM boasts the most in-depth NPCs in Zelda history, I give it a ten out of ten. There's so much to get into, I won't even bother starting.
MM plays just like its predecessor. You control Link with the control stick and have six main buttons. One is for standard actions, such as rolling, talking to people and opening doors. One is for usage of the sword, allowing you to attack. And of course, as in Ocarina, you can apply three items to the C's, represented in this port by the C-Stick, or Z, X, and Y. Finally we have the Z-button, or to be more accurate, R for this port. The R button does a number of things. It allows Link to lock onto targets, getting a much better and more streamlined battle view going. It also allows for different sword techniques and improved mobility (letting Link strife from side to side, do backflips, etc.)
MM plays out just like every other game. You go from dungeon to dungeon to get some key items. Normally there are forced side-quests to access the dungeons. You will find numerous items and tools to help you in your travels, such as the Hookshot and Lens of Truth, while inside the dungeons you will find the Hero's Bow, and the Magic Arrows (Fire, Ice, and Light). Getting more items and completing more dungeons opens up more sidequests. Usually Zelda games boast about six or so dungeons, however MM is limited to four. Because of this there are an immense amount of side-quests, and a whopping 52 Heart-Pieces.
New to Zelda (and unique to MM) is the time limit. You have 72-hours to complete the game, which translates to about an hour in real world. As I mentioned earlier you can alter this limit. First off you can rewind to the First Day. This is not only the only way to permanently save your data, but it also starts the timer over. The drawback is you lose any items (arrows, rupees, bombs, etc) and if you were in the middle of a dungeon or sidequest, it starts over. The second bit you can do is skip time ahead. This always skips to the next interval, either 6am or 6pm on your given day, effectively making you jump to the next 12 hour slot. Lastly you can slow time (and return it to normal) which makes it move are roughly one-third the speed. This allows you to do more in your time, but it also slows down the movement of scripted events, such as the notorious Kafei-Anju Sidequest. Anything that is based on a certain time (eg: NPC 1 meets NPC2 at 4pm will always happen at 4pm). Slowing time only affects these things, and not the speed of Link, monsters, etc. As I mentioned, MM features limited saves. There are two methods to this. First you can use one of the many save points located throughout Termina. This will allow for a temporary save that erases once you continue your game. So if you save at a point, resume the game, and die, you lose ALL the data. You can rewind to the First Day to permanently save your data, although as I mentioned this features the drawback of losing your items.
So I bet your wondering. How are dungeons and such effected by the Three Day Cycle? If you complete a dungeon, then rewind time, it resets. Meaning if you wanted to, you could play through a dungeon multiple times (just note you retain items such as the Bow or Hookshot). Some sidequests are determined by the state of the region aka, have you beaten the dungeon or not? Let's say you rewind after beating a dungeon, but realize you missed a post-dungeon sidequest. You can return to the dungeon and warp right to the boss. Defeat him again and the dungeon is beat again. This doubles as a convenience feature and simply allows you to refight bosses if you so desire.
The last new feature MM brings to the table are the transformation masks, and masks in general. There are 24 in total, although only five allow you to transform. Some of the regular masks have simple powers. For example The Great Fairy's Mask attacks Stray Faries, the Stone Mask makes you invisible, and the Garo Mask can attract the deadly Garo Warriors for battle. The transformation masks will transform Link into one of five things, although only three are used prominently. The Deku Mash turns Link into a Deku Scrub, reducing his physical attack power, but increasing his speed and giving him some new powers, such as the option to glide using flowers. The Goron Mask turns Link into a Goron, giving him immense power and slow movement, and the ability to roll a high speeds with spikes protruding from your back. Finally there's the Zora Mask which, you guessed it, turns you into a Zora. Zora Link is fairly week, but features the best swim speed and some very unique abilities, such as the fin boomerangs. There's also the Giant's Mask, which makes like Giant, but it can only be used in one place, and the Fierce Deity Mask, which turns Link into a fearsome warrior (this is limited to post-game and can only be used against bosses without the use of some glitches).
MM features mainly recycled graphics and character designs from Ocarina. However it also improved upon them immensely. Thanks to using the N64's Expansion Pack, MM had much better graphics, more dynamic lighting and increased draw distances. MM boasts some of the best graphics during the N64's lifespan, and is on par with the likes of Rare masterpieces DK64 and Banjo-Tooie.
Music and Sounds: 8/10
Once again, mainly recycled from Ocarina. MM does feature a ton of new music however, a lot of which is simply wonderful. At the same time you will hear the same three or so themes over and over, and to be honest they aren't the best the game has to offer. MM could have improved upon Ocarina's sound quality, and while it's by no means bad, it failed to make it better.
Replay Value: 8/10
This port was the sixth time I've played MM. It's still very fun, but some people might not like to playthrough it multiple times just because of the sheer amount of forced gameplay and dungeons, and an over-emphasis on sidequests. There really isn't any need to start a new game, as you can simply rewind and do anything you wanted to again, only with more equipment available to you.
To this day almost a decade later, MM has endured. It's still a wonderful game worthy of being called Ocarina of Time's sequel. That being said, does it overshadow its predecessor? Yes in the since it improved graphics, game play and depth. However the core storyline of Majora's Mask is weak and flimsy compared to Ocarina, and going through the motions time and time again becomes repetitive. MM is a great game and one of the best Zelda's out there, and while it aims well on trying to surpass Ocarina, it falls a little short. People call Majora's Mask the darkest Zelda, and fitting considering it will always rest in the mighty shadow cast by Ocarina of Time.
Sound & Music: 8/10
A worthy game no doubt, and for its time a 9/10. But it's 2009 and some things are a bit dated, so I can't help but dock on point just for that. Maybe if this were a review for the N64 version...
Reviewer's Rating: 4.0 - Great
Originally Posted: 06/16/09
Game Release: The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask (US, 05/18/09)
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