The Legend of Zelda Majora’s Mask is one of the most highly regarded entries in the Zelda franchise, highly regarded by the many fans of the game for the ideas that it provided and the interesting story elements. In a sense another source of Majora’s Masks popularity in the present day is perhaps somewhat similar to that of how the fanbase views many of the games in the franchise, while initially the game provides hate upon release because of its ideas or even length, it grows with the ages just like what has happened with Wind Waker and will inevitably happen with Skyward Sword. In my own view Majora’s Mask has not changed and remains the same brilliant game it started as upon original release.
Majora’s Mask follows on from where Ocarina of Time let us off. The games opening sees Link on a journey through the Lost Woods trying to find a friend, presumably Navi who parted ways with our hero at the end of his previous journey. During this time Link encounters the Skull Kid who steals his horse and Link gives chase somehow winding up in another world. In this world known as Termina the world faces an imminent danger of a falling moon and Link has to save it, the only problem is that Link has been transformed into a Deku Scrub and must find a way to return to being human before it is to late.
Majora’s Mask is a very different game to many of the franchises other entries and at no point does this appear to be a bad thing, while many other Zelda games have put a focus on exploring every little inch of the games world Majora’s Mask does not have that focus. Right from the get go you are immediately focused on your goal of the time attempting to complete a certain objective within a small space of time. This mainly comes from Majora’s Masks interesting time mechanic, while other Zelda games have literally allowed hours of freedom to explore Majora’s Mask provides you with three days to achieve your goal and save the world.
What makes this interesting is that you have only these three days to try to complete dungeons and bring order back to all of Termina. The problem with this however is that it is impossible to complete the game on the three day parameter, but this is where the time mechanic from Ocarina of Time comes in allowing you to return back to the dawn of the first day in order to have the three days to achieve your goal. This idea is where the game truly gets to become both interesting and frustrating, frustrating because of all your progress being erased essentially but interesting because of what it allows for.
For those concerned dungeon completion still remains and so you can continue onto the next area the only frustrating part is just how pushed you are to get through the dungeon as well as how to get into the dungeon. Interestingly while I may have said Majoras Mask is more focused by its time mechanic it does sort of allow a sense of freedom in how you approach your days. It becomes your choice if you want to attempt to get into the next dungeon on that day, want to start completing the objectives that can’t be removed by rewinding time or just hang around Clock Town. What you do with these three days is truly up to you and in some cases even spending a day doing reconnaissance on an area to get the best results on a future day is a great use of time, I recall spending many days exploring areas to get more information on that area as well as spending my time waiting for specific times to complete side objectives.
This was one of the great things about Majora’s Masks world it deals with a lot of my issues with the Zelda franchise or games in general. I have often complained about how the characters in some of these games feel lifeless or that I may as well be constantly walking through a barren city, Majora’s Mask fixes this issue thanks to its time idea that gives each character a personality and a set criteria of what they are doing through each day. They each have a point and are actually interesting to follow the story of throughout the cycle and the game accepts that and even in a sense promotes it with its other big idea of masks.
Scattered throughout Majora’s Mask are a series of different masks each containing there own set of shall we see less then helpful abilities, not to be critical but most of the masks have no actual point or even a purpose in the game itself apart from at the very end. Sure I will admit I did have some fun playing with a small selection of them from time to time mostly while I was spending five minutes remembering what I was doing or going to do on that cycle.
Not all the masks are essentially useless as throughout the game you acquire three masks that play a critical part in the story and help you to make your way through the game. These masks bestow upon you special powers that allow you to go through areas otherwise inaccessible by regular Link, the Deku Scrub has the ability to jump high and hover by using flowers, the Goron is powerful and can plow through incoming hazards, and finally the Zora allows you to swim to great depths and stay underwater. Each transformation is a key part of a certain dungeon in the game and becomes a key part of making it through the game, as well as offering different types of characters to allow further developed puzzle solving regarding each characters separate abilities as well as each being fun and highly enjoyable in their own way.
To date Majora’s Mask is one of the best Zelda games to date and features some of the best ideas that the franchise has ever known. Still for how great Majora’s Mask is the notable issues remain such as how pointless most of the games masks are. But even with this Majora’s Mask is fun and if any Zelda game is worth playing it is definitely this one. The main thing I find interesting though is that the game had only a year in development and the game is incredible considering that it was made in a year.
I personally think I would rather return to the remake on the 3DS it just all around seems to work better in many parts, however this is just a matter of opinion. In case you are interested you can find my Majora’s Mask 3D review here.