Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask Review

So how do you make a follow up for a game as successful as Ocarina of time? Well, Nintendo answered this question with the Legend of Zelda, Majora’s Mask. A lot of people have mixed feelings about this game, I considered it to be my favourite Zelda game of all time when I was younger, being at least as good if not better than Ocarina. But a lot of people still prefer Ocarina, for which I don’t at all blame them. This game in a lot of ways was very different from Ocarina of time and I get the feeling that people weren’t sure whether these differences made it better or worse. I’ve always thought that a little variety in a franchise never hurts.

The story in this game is one of the very few that directly links this game to another Zelda game. Majora takes place right where Ocarina left off. Link, after being sent back in time after defeating Ganondorf, decides to leave Hyrule to search for Navi, who left him in the Temple of Time. While he’s riding Epona though the Forest, he’s attacked by a Masked Imp named Skull Kid and his two fairies named Tatl and Tael. Skull Kid steals Link’s ocarina and horse, then rides off through the woods. Link chases him through the forest until he comes across a rabbit hole leading to Wonderland...I mean, Termina.

skullkid1 - legend of zelda: majora's mask review

Skull Kid Cursing Link

deku link

Once he’s done free falling, Link confronts Skull Kid, but with the power of his Mask, Skull Kid turns Link into a Deku scrub and flies away laughing his ass off....to busy laughing to notice he left Tatl behind. Tatl then assumes the role of “annoying fairy guide who needs to learn when to STFU” for the rest of your journey. After a bit of travelling through the tunnel, Link finally stumbles upon a travelling Mask salesman, who claims to have been following Link. He explains that if Link can get his ocarina back, the man can turn him back into a human. He agrees to do this if Link can get Skull kid’s mask back for him...in 3 days.

Happy Mask Salesman


After 3 days of exploring/dicking around in a city called Clock Town, Link catches up to Skull Kid, with less than half a day left. Turns out that in those 3 days, the moon was falling from the sky, threatening to destroy all of Termina. (Kind of a dark turn of events for a Zelda game.) When all seems lost, Link finally shoots a bubbble at Skull Kid (Deku’s can do that.) Which makes him drop the Ocarina. Link picks it up, remembers how to play the Song of Time and uses it to warp backward 3 days. This of course means Link can talk to the Mask fellow again to turn Human. The Mask guy teaches him the song of healing, which turns Link back to normal, but creates the Deku mask for him to use to transform at will. Mask guy however, is pissed once he realizes you don’t have Majora’s Mask. He then explains what the mask is: An ancient artifact of evil power that will pretty much destroy Termina is Link can’t get it from Skull Kid...then the adventure resumes.


majora mask guy pissed



This gameplay is pretty much the same as ocarina, with some slight differences. You start with your basic sword and shield but your sword can be upgraded later in the game and you aquire the mirror shield even later. You are constantly playing the same 3 day cycle and you go to the start of it everytime you play the Song of Time. (Which is also how you save your game.) This makes you lose any arrows, bombs, rupees, or exchangeable items like deeds/letters you have, but key items like the bow, hookshot, bottles and masks never leave. However, if you deposit rupees at the bank, the banker can somehow keep track of them. 0.o Dungeons also reset, even though they still count as completed, you can re-do the dungeons and boss fights whenever you want.

memes magic money


Despite the frustrating parts, the 3-days-until-everyone-dies scenario gave Majora a sense of urgency that other Zelda games didn’t have, which adds a lot to the story and experience.

majora field

majoras mask moon


Let’s talk about the masks. Unlike in Ocarina, where they’re a simple exchange item, these things are extremely important, and there’s a lot of them. The most important being the transformational masks.


masks - legend of zelda: majora's mask review


Along with the Deku mentioned earlier, Link can later aquire a Mask to turn him into a Goron and one to turn him into a Zora. Deku Link can shoot bubbles and spin around to attack. He can skip on water but if he skips more than 5 times, he sinks and dies. He’s easily the weakest for combat.
Majoras Mask Deku Link Jungle


Goron Link is quite a bit tougher, he can through punches, and roll around. If you push the control stick forward enough, he grows spikes, turning into a spikey ball of death, but this costs magic. He’s too heavy to swim though.

goron Link


Zora Link on the other hand, is an exceptional swimmer (no duh) He can swim underwater incredibly quickly and can produce and electric barrier while doing so. (Costs MP) Pressing B will make him walk on the seafloor, like wearing the Iron Boots in ocarina. On land, he can fight by shooting his fins like boomerangs and using them as blades for close combat. He can used them to shield as well.

Zora Link


As a kid, being able to play with all these different forms is likely why I loved this game so much. Your Ocarina also changes shapes based on your mask. Deku gets a set of horns, Goron gets bongos and the Zora gets a guitar. Then there’s THAT mask. I don’t like to put in spoilers, but if you’d collected all the masks before the end of the game, you know the one I’m talking about.

The other masks, while they don’t transform you, still have their uses. Some of them are used very often, like the Great fairy mask, which helps you find stray faires in dungeons (which give you power-ups when you find them all) and the Bomb mask, which causes an explosion at the price of hearts (though you could negate the damage if you bring up your shield.) And of course the bunny hood, which makes you run faster. Others, like the Kamaro mask (which makes you dance) or the Postman’s hat only have one use, normally to acquire a heart piece from a specifc character or object. Or like Kafei’s mask, unlock a whole subquest for even more masks and items.

Speaking of subquests, this is what made up the majority of Majora’s Mask. There were only four main dungeons but a lot of mini-quests in between, rather than just going from place to place to beat a big ugly monster. Some people saw this as a negative...I did not. It makes perfect sense to design Majora this way, otherwise it would be too much like Ocarina, and we’d all be complaining about that. The NPC’s play a much greater roll in the game, most of them having their own schedules that play out during the 3 day cycle and many of the sidequests depending on which days you interact with them. I think the most memorable one was the finding Kafei quest, which was about reuniting an engaged couple, after the groom-to-be is turned into a child and has his wedding mask stolen. Then there’s the quest where you reunite with Epona...and shoot aliens with a bow and arrow that night to keep them from steeling cattle. (Just go with it!)
There’s far too much going on with the NPC’s over the cycle, it’s hard to sum up in one review. However if you get the bomber's notebook, you can keep track of all of the NPC's who need your help much more easily. I guess you could say that unlike Hyrule, Termina feels like it’s been “lived in” so to speak.
majoras mask 5

Of course, I have to mention Tingle, the insufferable 35 year old man child who think’s he’s a fairy. He sells maps. That is all. I’ll talk more about what a slimey douchebag he is when I review Windwaker.

tingle - legend of zelda: majora's mask review


A fairly common complaint is recycled characters from Ocarina. It’s a fair critique, but some argue that the idea is that Termina is a different dimension, the opposite of Hyrule. Hence the similar characters. I personally don’t care but I understand why some people would be a little pissed. Another unsettling, yet interesting theory is that Majora's Mask is Link's death. Link died because he went into the lost woods to look for Navi. (without bringing a fairy along with him. In Ocarina, one of the Kokiri explains that when non-kokiri get lost in the woods, they become Stalfos) The idea is that Majora happened inside of Link's head hence all of the familiar characters. I could probably dedicate a whole post to this theory but it's certainly debatable.

When it comes down to it, there are plenty of reasons to like Ocarina more than this game, and vice versa. That’s what makes thee two games so great. They have plenty of what the other doesn’t. If you’re going to put two games like this on the same console, they have to compliment each other well. This is why I think Majora’s mask deserves much more credit than it gets, if not the same amount as Ocarina.

10/10

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Comments

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  • 2

    I wouldn't be surprised if it was all in his head. We know from Link's Awakening and Super Mario 2 that nintendo is willing to pull the old "it was all a dream" trick. And it does make sense that it would be dark with him dying. Ocarina was already tragic in that he and Saria could never be together romantically because she was a sage.

    • Ertrov
    • November 24, 2011, 10:43 pm
    Not only that, but she's a perpetual child. Link couldn't tap that growing up! XD

    A lot of the themes in the game point toward it too. A lot the the side quests relate to life scenarios and themes. (Uniting a couple, listening to confessions, staying out all night, regret.) It's as if Majora's Mask is Link coming to terms with his death and realizing everything he missed about living a full life. Another interesting thing is that Tingle, when you think about it, is what Link would have been like if Navi had never shown up in Ocarina. (35 and waiting for a Fairy.) So it's like anther coping tool.

    Then there's the hints in Twilight Princess that the Skull warrior teaching your sword skills is Link's ghost. After all, one of the songs that he howls with you is the Song of Healing. Not to mention, he tells you to "Believe in your strengths" Like the Mask salesman does.

    Like I said, you could dedicate a whole post to this.
    - CrazyJay November 25, 2011, 8:53 am
    You SHOULD dedicate a whole post to it. I think it'd be a very interesting read.
    - Disco November 27, 2011, 7:55 pm
    Reply
  • 1

    I know the mask you are talking about, and I LOVE it. It let me beat the final boss easily.

    Fierce Deity mask? (I think that's the name)
    But yeah I got that one on my second playthrough, it made the boss a cakewalk
    - imfrikknbad November 24, 2011, 10:23 am
    First time I played through, I didn't even try to take on the final boss until I had every mask. (I just had a feeling, lol) Worked out when the kid hands you the Mask, then you destroy the boss pretty quickly.
    - CrazyJay November 24, 2011, 10:42 am
    Reply
  • 1

    I agree Majora's Mask kicked ass! I mean the game cartridge was fucking gold haha
    But yeah this is my #2 favorite Zelda game behind Ocarina of Time

    Reply
  • 1

    im wandering why you are reviewing the best video games IN THE HISTORY OF GAMING
    still nice job

    • BEASTY
    • November 27, 2011, 8:01 pm
    Reply
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