Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask (Retro Review)

May 4, 2010 at 9:55 PM | Posted in (All Posts), Reviews, Video Game Reviews | Leave a comment
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The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask was a game that even at its initial release met some mixed reviews, and it seems like as time has gone on some people feel more strongly in support for the game while some people strongly oppose the game now more than ever. Overall I think that MOST people feel that Majora’s Mask is not a terrible game, but some people feel that certain elements were poor choices while others feel that the Zelda franchise (and other video games in general) could take that route.

Being just over 20 years old, it’s hard for me to believe that it has been 10 years now since the release of Majora’s Mask.

Let me just go ahead and get it out of the way and say that Ocarina of Time is not only my favorite Zelda title but one of my favorite video games of all time. Knowing this is actually somewhat important considering I’m reviewing Majora’s Mask, which is (storyline wise) a sequel. I can still remember sitting in front of my TV and seeing the commercials.

The game had a plethora of hype, but was that really a surprise? This is the sequel to Ocarina of Time, and as difficult as it may be for some gamers today of a newer generation, Ocarina of Time had a huge impact on the entire video game industry. Its impact set a new standard for how 3D Adventure Games should be from that point on (not to mention the Z-Targeting System).

Nonetheless, we all know the basic plot of Majora’s Mask — you had 3 days to save Termina.

In that one statement a number of questions could be raised. First off, 3 days? Only 3 days? 3 days of what time format? And Termina? Where is Termina? What about Hyrule?

This would be the first console Zelda game that would openly take place outside of Hyrule, and the plot was very different at that. Zelda needed no rescuing, and instead Link must save an entire new civilization known as Termina. Save it from what? A giant moon — a falling, evil, giant moon. Who was behind it? Not Ganondorf, but the mysterious Mask of Majora and the Skull Kid that it was using as a puppet.

Back in 2000, the Zelda storyline was not as worn out as it has become, but Nintendo still felt the need to change things up. I loved this idea. Was it a bit intimidating going into something that I didn’t know about? Absolutely, but I’m glad I took a chance with the game.

The game’s main setting is in Clock Town, the center of Termina and more or less the capital of this strange new land that Link finds himself in. On all four sides of Clock Town lies 4 distinct areas with Temples that Link must tackle. We have the swamplands with the Deku Tribe (with Romani Ranch just close by), the Great Bay area where we find the Zora Hall as well as a Pirate Fortress, the mountainous terrain where the Goron tribe calls home (with a snowy setting this time around), and the Ikana Canyon — the more ghostly area of the game with the final dungeon.

While technically only 4 temples are in Majora’s Mask, they are by no means 4 “easy” temples. Not only does it usually take an entire 3 day period to do everything to get up to the temple, go through the temple, enjoy your hard work for a short amount of time and then play the Song of Time to return to the first day (Granted, you can play the Song of Time at any point during the 3 day period and start over).

Which by the way, is a major part of the game — playing the Song of Time is really how the game connects. At the end of every 3-day period the moon comes crashing down into Termina. Once Link retrieves his Ocarina from the Skull Kid, you can then play the Song of Time to travel back to the first day you entered Termina. The time traveling aspect alone brings a great appeal to the game, in my opinion. It’s not so unfair that everything you do is undone (it is to some degree), but all of the weapons and masks you’ve collected travel back with you. Also, if you managed to complete one of the four dungeons, you still have the mask of the Dungeon Boss to prove you’ve beat it, and that plays a role in the final part of the game.

So, if anyone ever thought the game sounded unfair that you only have 3 days, they clearly never actually played the game.

The most appealing part of Majora’s Mask isn’t the dungeons, it isn’t the time travelling, it isn’t even the masks — it’s the character development and the story.

Link eventually gets a “Bombers Notebook” from the “Society of Bombers” (a group of kids in Clock Town that, while they seem mischievous, they actually like to do good deeds and help people out). Just about every single person in Clock Town could use Link’s help at some point or another, and seeing their individual story unfold is the best part of the game. Best of all – you usually receive a mask at the end of every quest, and masks do play a huge part in the game.

The picture used above is of Anju, the daughter of the owner of the local inn and a nice young woman in Termina. Her fiancée, Kafei, has mysteriously gone missing and it’s up to Link to play detective. BY FAR, this is the most tedious and long sidequest.

However, one special moment I feel worth mentioning is the sidequest for the Gibdo Mask.

In Ikana Canyon lies a music house near a well is strangely surrounded by Gibdos (the mummy looking villains from other Zelda games). Link has to take care of them by returning water to the valley. Once the Gibdos are defeated, a little girl opens the front door and steps outside. Upon getting to close to her, she runs back inside and tells Link to go away. Using some trickery (bombing the door then running) allows you to eventually sneak in the house without her noticing.

Once inside, you go downstairs to the basement and you hear a rumbling coming from a large closet. Out bursts some deformed human creature with Gibdo wrappings on his body. He is moaning uncontrollably and looks quite monstrous, but also strangely human. If you play the Song of Healing, the evil is lifted and the bandages on his body all form into one mask — the Gibdo Mask — that falls at his feet. It turns out this was actually the father of the little girl, and some accident had occurred through an experiment that left him in that deranged state. The little girl arrives back inside to see her father has been healed. They embrace and cry while holding one another.  The little girl, named Pamela, and her father have a very touching exchange of words —

Pamela: ...Father?
Father: Pamela!
Pamela: Father!
Father: What have I been doing this whole time?
Pamela: You...haven't been doing anything...You had a bad dream.
You were just having a nightmare.

Playing as Link and going through all the trouble you do to help people out is very rewarding and one of the most socially interactive things I’ve ever experienced in a single player videogame.

I’ve been playing through Majora’s Mask since the semester started and I just now finished it up. I managed to collect all the masks, got 16 hearts, got the Fierce Deity’s mask, completed the Bombers Notebook, and of course, beat Majora. It’s been the best way I can think of to spend my free time away from work and school. Diving back into this wonderful game was the best decision I’ve made (video game wise) in a long time.

I’m going to try and be diplomatic about this and see things from both sides. Some people LOVE this game, while some HATE it.

OVERALL –

THE BAD –
*If you’re not very fond of side quests and working with a very story driven game, you likely won’t enjoy Majora’s Mask.
*Not counting the side quests, the game is not nearly as long (or physically spread out) as Ocarina of Time.
*Not counting the mask transformations, you can only play as Young Link (which some have a problem with).

THE GOOD –
*It was a unique concept that Nintendo successfully achieved.
*Playing in different forms is super fun (especially swimming around as the Zora Link or racing around as Goron Link!)
*The story is fantastic.

In the end, this is (both unfortunately and fortunately) a game that can only sit on either end of the spectrum — any gamer will likely very much appreciate what Majora’s Mask tries to achieve (and in my opinion, does), but others will feel that Nintendo wasted an opportunity to use the Ocarina of Time formula and build upon it.

My 10 year old self would have given this game:
A+

My 20 year old self will give this game:
A+

It’s not as revolutionary (or special) to me as Ocarina of Time, but Majora’s Mask rests upon a pedestal of its own.

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