The Legend of Zelda - Majora's Mask Review by: Zircron SwiftLegend of Zelda Majora's Mask Review
Before this game, the Legend of Zelda games were in a simple, straight forward time line. It was Ocarina of Time, then a Link to the Past, then Zelda 1 for the NES, and then Zelda II for the NES. It was nice, consistent and easy to understand. Then this game came along. Don't get me wrong, this game is amazing, possibly as great as Ocarina of Time but on a different scale, but let's be honest. This screwed up the simple time line. If you completed Ocarina of Time, then you'll see straight away how this game messes up that simple time line and created a split, making everything much, much more complex. However, despite all that, this game is a masterpiece. Ocarina of Time was amazing, but this game is just...wow. It could have topped Ocarina of Time, but there were a few, minor things that made this game just a coconut shy from being better.
Well for starters, you needed the expansion pack to even start playing this game. Not only back then you needed to pay for this game, but an extra as well. However, the intense complexity of Majora's Mask makes it very understandable why this is needed. Second off, it crashes every now and then. Three times over the course of me playing this game it crashed, and three times I had a load of stuff on it. It's one of those games that have set save points, and you can't save between places like in Ocarina of Time. You just have to hope it doesn't crash. Imaging gaining three heart containers, defeating a boss and collecting a few masks and then suddenly it crashed, meaning you had to do all that again. It really annoys a gamer like me. Finally, it's the way the game is styled, and I'll get to that later.
So the story starts off and is meant to be set after Ocarina of Time, but is in the timezone of when Ocarina of Time started when Link was in the Kokiri Forest. However Link isn't sleeping in his bed this time, he is on Epona and is in the Lost Woods, trying to find Navi. See the confusion? Even though Link knows he will get turned into a Stalfo if he ventures in the Lost Woods without a Fairy or Kokiri to guide him, he still does it anyway, despite what he had learned in his adventures in Ocarina of Time, which never really happened, but still happened anyway in another timeline yet haven't happened yet even though they were meant to happen like right now. Anyway, he comes across some Skull Kid with a creepy heart shaped mask ion and causes all sorts of havoc with you. Epona runs away, you lose your ocarina and you get turned into a Deku Scrub. One thing leads to another and suddenly you have a new fairy friend called Tatl, who is like Navi and gives you useless information, but isn't as annoying and sometimes actually gives you helpful information.
So you learn how to use your new body and come across the Happy Mask Salesmen, who has a tendency to jump cut a lot. If you play this game, you'll know what I mean. It's insane the jumps it makes. Whether that was intended or not I don't know. He'll tell you about some mask that he wants back and trusts you to return it, and then you get to really play the game, as you enter the Clock Town in Termina. Termina is an area outside of Hyrule, and is a unique place in its own right in the Zelda series. However, there seem to be people there that resemble the people in Hyrule. This is where the story gets foggy, and the theories become interesting. Since not much is given about the whole history of Termina, people can speculate on what it really is and why these people look so much like the ones in Hyrule. I like a game that holds that kind of mystery in a place so plain in sight. It doesn't take much, to be honest.
At later points in the game, you'll remember old songs and learn completely new ones. Like in Ocarina of Time, all of these songs are a work of art, especially Oath to Order and the much loved Song of Healing. All of these songs will have a purpose in completing the game, and only one song is used for that one time to do something and then are useless afterwards. I felt in Ocarina of Time, the Song of Time and Zelda's Lullaby were really good, but were only used like once or twice in the entire game. In this one, however, the Song of Time is used for many different things, depending how you play the song, that is. Also, this game doesn't limit you to an ocarina. Pipes, drums and a guitar are used as well in this game. It's pretty sweet.
Something that was added to this game was a Side-Quest book, otherwise known as the Bombers Notebook. This shows you all the troubled people in the Clock Town that you have spoken to, and when they are about to do something that is important. Rewards for these might include a bottle with something in it, a mask, or a piece of heart. These can be simple puzzles, or dastardly tricky ones, like the Kafei and Anju one. It is worth doing that one in particular. If you love a good story that drips with suspense, then do that one, mainly because you can't complete it until around half way through the game, but you can start it really early.
Something that makes this game unique is that you use different masks to solve different puzzles, as well as songs and such. There are four masks that transform you, each suited for a different situation. The Deku mask is a nice all rounder, which can propel you into the air in certain spots, the Goron mask is a strong, sturdy build, and Zora link (<3) looks awesome and can just unarmed combat in a stylish way. And the forth mask that transform you? You ask. Well, that’s a secret, and like many good secrets in the Zelda series, they meant to be found by you with a lot of exploration, and this game encourages that sense of exploration perfectly like in Ocarina of Time, and I dare say better as well.
Now, one thing I absolutely love about this game (And really, really hate about it), is that it’s time based. You have three days to complete the entire game in. Of course, this is completely impossible for the normal player who is playing this for the first time. SO you can use the Song of Time to save your game and return to the Dawn of the First Day, losing all your rupees and other collectables (excluding bottles and important items) in the process. You can store these rupees in a bank, which marks your arm in ink, which means the accountant will recognize you, even if you have never met before. This means you are technically eating into someone else’s pocket when you’re doing this, as the rupees you are owed were never in the account to begin with, but I’m sure everyone will accept that when you save Termina for them.
Anyway, in normal RPG games, its all event based. For example, you are playing Pokemon Pearl. You could stand in your room for hours on end at the beginning of the game and nothing would happen unless you walked down the stairs. Things only went along as normal when you are there. This game, however, has several things happening at once without you even knowing. You could be cutting grass, in which the postman will be making a delivery to Anju in the Stock Pot Inn. You could be grinding for rupees in a temple, and an old lady would have her bomb bag stolen in the middle of the night. You could be standing still, doing absolutely nothing, and you would get a game over because the Moon hit the earth. That’s what’s remarkable about this game. It’s complex, and it demands quick thinking. It gives you the feeling of being under pressure to do that temple, or get to that point, and do it fast. Do nothing; and you really will fail and die. Amazing.
However, this can also be a bad thing. Since you’re trying to do as much as possible in one cycle of days, it can be stressful playing this game, and even more so when you’re waiting for something to happen, and you found out you got the wrong place. The game puts a lot of pressure on you as the player, not only Link there. This can cause to you hating the game as well as loving it. Normally when you’re stuck, you can just take your time trying new things out. But when you’re stuck on a part for too long in this game, it gets frustrating as you don’t have the time to make mistakes, literally. Then you have to play the Song of Time again and go through all that again and collect the stray fairy’s. I remember just about clearing the first temple with three minutes to spare, but failing the Deku Shrine thingy, and I had to fight the boss a second time to get that reward. It can be quite a frustrating game.
Luckily, the game gives you some back story on the history of Termina, if only brief. Also, like in Ocarina of Time, learning new songs is the most beautiful part of this game. It was as good as Ocarina of Time was, and that’s saying something, because Ocarina of Time had the Sheik moments. I loved it when I learned Oath to Order. The atmosphere was incredible, and the song was touching. The dialogue went so well with everything else around that moment. It’s a special moment in a Zelda game when you learn a new song; and this game make the most of every song you learned.
The graphics are amazing. Like in Ocarina of Time, it was all very interactive and realistic. You could get up close with everything. They did a really good job of making everything look really good for its time, and had some of the better graphics on the N64. The animations were really good…erm, save for the Happy Mask Salesmen and a few others that jump-cut a little. But when they were done right, they were amazing. Each of Links forms looks incredible, especially Zora Link. I’ve noticed that each time Link has a transformation mask on, he loses his shirt. I don’t know why though, and he somehow gets it back when he takes off the mask again.
The music in this game is also outstanding. The songs you learn are a work of art, like I said before, but other pieces of music are great as well. Ocarina of Time had great pieces, like Gerudo Valley and Sheik’s Theme, and it’s hard to top them. Majora’s Mask had the Clock Town music and Majora’s Theme, which were incredible pieces of work. The temple music, just like in Ocarina of Time, was subtle, but added depth to the entire atmosphere.
Another thing I love about this game is how dark it is. Whenever you put on a mask that changes your form, there’s an animation. Link puts on the mask, and for a brief moment, you can see the pain and fear in his eyes, as well as hear his screams as the mask makes him something he wasn’t meant to be. That is seriously dark. Imagine seeing that as a kid, and seeing that pained face every time you put on a mask. This can be skipped, thankfully, as you will be switching between masks a lot.
There is a moon with a face on it slowly making its way to crash down on you. I personally think it’s trying to invade my personal space. It gets shockingly close. You think it is close on the first day, wait until the final hours. It’s almost scary. Again, it adds to the pressure, creating stress our hero would be facing on you as well. It doesn’t help the fact it’s one of the hardest Zelda titles I’ve played. The bosses are imaginative and challenging, especially the final boss if you didn’t prepare enough beforehand. As well as other things, this game can almost be scary.
Overall, I give this game an 9.2/10 It’s challenging, and very hard to complete without getting annoyed at it more than once. The nature of the game is you need to be good at it and get used to the time-style puzzles it has through-out the game, which can lead to it being stressful. However, if you can handle this, and pull through, you can experience one of the finest RPG’s out there for the N64, and most probably of all time. Sure, it’s not quite as good as Ocarina of Time, but only by a small margin. It has a rich a world as any other RPG, plus chest full of gold, jewels and relics on top of it. If you’re a Zelda fan, then you simply must play this game.