The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask – Definitive 50 N64 Game #4

As you venture How do you follow up Ocarina of Time? One of the most ground-break, popular, and beloved games of all time?

With Majora’s Mask.

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Majora’s Mask begins with young Link as he ventures deep into the woods searching for his fairy Navi following the events of Ocarina of Time. But he’s met with a terrible fate. He’s ambushed by the possessed Skull Kid, who steals his horse Epona and ocarina. After a chase, the Skull Kid curses Link, transforming him into a Deku Scrub. Link is forced to continue wandering with only Skull Kid’s left-behind fairy to help him.

Link surfaces inside a clock tower where he encounters another familiar face – the Happy Mask Salesman. It’s this unsettling guy who convinces Link to retrieve the Skull Kid’s mask – Majora’s Mask, which has corrupted him – and promises to break Link’s curse.

Things are even worse than all of that, however. The strange alternate land Link has found himself in, known as Termina, is on the brink of destruction. Skull Kid’s antics are bringing the moon down for a crash landing, and you’ve only got 3 days to stop it.

The 3 day time limit introduces the first big twist of Majora’s Mask. As Link, you’re trapped in a perpetual 3-day cycle. A repeating Groundhog Day style nightmare that always ends the same way, with apocalyptic destruction. Once you get your ocarina back, you can learn the Song of Time, which allows you to warp back to the dawn of the first of these three days and save.

Time itself becomes a resource to be managed in the game. You’ve got to complete dungeons and other tasks before time runs out. Major items stay with you when you use the Song of Time, but other progress and even rupees do not.

The more you play Majora’s Mask, the more you’ll learn of its inhabitants lives. Enter the second big twist. These are not mere stationary NPCs, doomed to stand in place and repeat helpful hints. They’re given incredibly memorable lives, and you can watch them go about living these lives over the course of the three day cycle.

Early in the game, you receive what’s called the Bombers’ Notebook. This helps you keep track of what these characters are doing over the course of each day. In order to complete side quests and collect many of the game’s available masks, you’ll need to figure out where and when and what to do for these characters.

Twist number 3 – the masks. In addition to the 20 normal masks which can be collected in the game, and typically have minor uses themselves, Majora’s Mask includes 3 absolutely vital transformative masks. After you break the Deku Scrub curse, you have the option of transforming between normal old Hylian Link and a Deku at any time. You’re pretty weak as a Deku, but you can hop across water, launch yourself into the air from special flowers, and shoot bubbles.

Later in the game you get some more exciting transformations to work with. There’s the Goron mask, which turns you into one of the heavy hitting, rock hard Goron. In this form, you can roll at incredible speeds, ground pound, and throw devastating punches.

There’s also the Zora Mask – this one turns you into one of the fishy Zora. With this, you can swim much faster and more elegantly than as normal Link.

There’s also one more special transformative mask you can get if you find all of the other masks in the game too.

The last twist is the game structure. Majora’s Mask contains only 4 proper dungeons, a half to a third the number of a typical Zelda game. Much more emphasis is put in the journey getting to these dungeons, each has a dungeon’s worth of work to go through just to get to it. There’s also all the optional sidequests on top of that too. Despite the low dungeon count, Majora’s Mask actually boasts an incredible volume of content.

Majora’s Mask takes so much from Ocarina of Time – the gameplay, the ocarina, the masks idea, even the character models. Yet for all it has in common with its predecessor, Majora’s Mask feels like one of, if not the most unique game in the entire Zelda franchise. This is a more reflective Zelda – darker and weirder. Obsessed with the ever looming passage of time. It’s no wonder it’s gained such a passionate following.

As I’m sure you already know – Nintendo has announced a 3DS remake of Majora’s Mask for 2015. If the Ocarina 3D remake is anything to go by – it’ll be fantastic.

Let me know what you think of Majora’s Mask and the Definitive 50 in the comments section below. Don’t forget to share this video, like this video, and subscribe. Check back next week for entry #3 on the Definitive 50 N64 games!