Review by Reaper115

Reviewed: 09/01/09

Three Days Grace

Good band, even better concept for a video game that simply rocked my socks off and then some.

The Legend of Zelda. A gaming franchise that has become as legendary as its name is one of the oldest cornerstones of the video game industry. Never has the series produced a dud that was not worth playing… an adventure not worth sinking your teeth into.

In all things, there are people afraid of change… of new ideas that threaten the old. I will admit that I was one of these people when I first inserted the borrowed Majora’s Mask cartridge into my Nintendo 64. What was I worried of? I was worried that the one aspect of life that video games didn’t emulate had crept into my favorite series: stress.

The three days time period turned me off immediately.

Years later, I decided that it was time to give it another try in my summer Zelda marathon. I wanted to see what all of the fuss was about, and maybe even scoff at the claims that this game was better than Ocarina of Time or Windwaker. I took a chance, and purchased Majora’s Mask on my virtual console. What I discovered my second time around was nothing short of a masterpiece.

True, the first three days in which you must hunt down Skull Kid to retrieve your Ocarina was mildly stressful, but once you get pass that you can reverse and slow down time at will, making the three days seem like a cool background element instead of a crushing factor. What do you have left? A Zelda adventure that is by far the most creative since the original was conceived for the Nintendo Entertainment System, and in my opinion, the most fun. I shudder to think of the past summers that I could have spent enjoying this gem instead of staring at my wall bored.

Now to the review

Graphics- 8/10

It is always hard to review a game that originally came out nine years ago for a system that has been surpassed in every way since, so I am reviewing this category as if I was playing it in the release year like everyone else on the planet. The graphics are excellent for the N64. The textures and lighting effects of the land fully immerse players in a way that I think Ocarina of Time never did. The only reason this category got an 8 and not a 10 was for the recycled character models from Ocarina of Time. I understand that the developers where forced to do this because of time restraints, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s always good to be refreshed. Overall, this game had excellent graphics. In my opinion, however, graphics are the least important factor of a video game.

Sound- 9/10

Wow. All I can say is wow. The developers really knew what they had to do to pull this off, and did it stunningly as a result. The music in Majora’s Mask is simply superb, and instills the mood of whatever you are doing perfectly. If you only have a few more hours to go, the music subtly adds a sense of urgency that would be absent otherwise. If you have time to relax in Clock Town, then the notes take away that urgency and replace it with a lethargic tune that makes everything seem right in the world despite the suicidal moon above you at all times. Music has always been a vital centerpiece to the Zelda franchise, and this game does not disappoint.

So why a 9? Well it seems as if the developers simply ran out of Ocarina tunes. There is only so much you can do with 5 notes, and it really shows in this game. All of the good tunes where used up in Ocarina of Time, leaving this game with forgetful and straight-out boring nonsensical strings of notes you must memorize to get anywhere. This and the simply awful fire sound effects that translated from Ocarina of Time along with the character models dropped the sound category down one, but not nearly enough to make this anything close to a mediocre effort.

Gameplay- 10/10

The game play is where this game really shines. If you don’t already know, I hope your eyes are used to the sun after living in your dark box your entire life so you can read this: this game uses transformation masks that can turn Link into a Deku Scrub, a Goron, a Zora or a “Fierce Deity”. This system is THE BEST Zelda gimmick ever, in my opinion. Transforming doesn’t even seem like a gimmick because the system is so well integrated into the tried and true Ocarina of Time style of play. Collecting other, non-transformation masks is also essential and makes up for the disappointing lack of obtainable gadgets you will receive in your travels (I believe this is the only Zelda game without a boomerang, but I could be wrong). Believe me… you WILL want to track down every single last one.

Story- 9/10

Zelda has never been a game known for its story. The world is in danger, and a farm boy rises up to save the world and the princess from the clutches of Ganon. This is the basic formula that all of the games have held to. With an exception to this one, of course.

This game is different and very plot driven. You will find no Ganon, princess, or Master Sword (Termina exists in another dimension than Hyrule) as you traverse the dark story of a doomed city and a twisted, lonely skull kid possessed by Majora’s Mask. This is by far the darkest story in the series, complete with doomed lovers, lonely children, and general hopelessness. Do not let Tingle or dancing Redeads fool you. This is a dark one.

Three days factor- 8/10

Aaaah the controversy that has plagued the internet worse than the American economy and climate change put together. Every Zelda since the original has had some small gimmick in addition to the traditional and pretty straightforward hunt down dungeon, get through dungeon, defeat boss formula. Some hold the game back from potential greatness (becoming a wolf in Twilight Princess) and some put a fun twist on the overall experience (time traveling in Ocarina). I am happy to report that for the most part, the three day factor in Majora’s Mask is mostly the latter.

It is not without its own little problems, however. You cannot save the game during a dungeon, because to save the game you have to return to the dawn of the first day, eliminating any progress you made in that dungeon that you wanted to have saved. The exception to this is the dungeon item, compass, and map. It is a major hindrance for people who can only play this game in short bursts rather than set aside a good two hours to tackle a dungeon. If you do put in those two hours, then it doesn’t really matter at all. This is why I did not find much of a fault in the three days factor. Once you slow down time in the game and have enough time in real life, then you are left with another genius Zelda temple.

A word of caution though: Whenever you go back in time, you lose all of your arrows, bombs, rupees (if you don’t put them in the bank), bottle contents, and temporary upgrades. This is normally not a big deal, because supplies are quite easy to come by in this game. It IS a big deal, however, if you do not know this and save with the gold dust earned in the hellish Goron races that is required to get the gilded sword, therefore losing your dust and having to do the races AGAIN. Similar situations will have you bashing your head against the wall and cursing the save system with all your might. This is why this category gets an 8. Luckily, these instances are far and in-between.
Another very minor annoyance: people don’t remember what you do for them whenever you go back in time to the first day, because technically it hasn’t happened yet (don’t think about it too hard… you will hurt yourself). Stupid ungrateful townspeople.

Misc.- 10/10

One common complaint of Zelda fans is that this game is too short (it only features four full dungeons). I beg to differ with my 20+ hour play log. If you enjoy this game to its fullest extent (collecting all of the masks and pieces of hearts, completing side quests, etc.) then this game will keep you entertained for a LONG time.

Another complaint is that the final boss is far too easy. I agree with this. Other than him, though, Majora’s Mask is by far the most challenging 3D Zelda yet (which sadly isn’t saying much).

It is a bizarre and unique adventure far off the beaten path that the series has blazed, but with all of the aspects of Zelda we have all grown to love. Do not be like me and wait. By this game, and have a good three days!

Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Product Release: The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask (US, 05/18/09)

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