Developer: Nintendo EAD/Grezzo
The oddball of the Zelda family, Majora’s Mask is the most intriguing game that Nintendo put out on the N64. It deals with many dark themes and has an overall sense of dread from start to finish. A complete step away from what we know as a Legend of Zelda game, it received mixed reviews at time of release and many fans, myself included, struggled to get into this truly obscure entry.
Being a direct sequel to Ocarina of Time it’s probably best that you start there before jumping into Majora. After the events in OoT you are met by the Skull Kid and his two fairy accomplices in a woodland area. He steals your horse and turns you into a Deku Scrub. After fighting your way to Clock Town, the capital of the land you’re in know as Termina, you bump into the Mask Merchant who tells you an imp has stolen a very dangerous and powerful mask. You are then charged with getting it back, oh and a huge super moon is crashing towards Termina, ready to destroy everything.
This is where the Majora’s major mechanic comes into play. The Skullkid has caused this moon to start falling. And you have three days to prevent it. Remember that Ocarina that Princess Zelda gave you in the previous game? Well you can now use it, and most of the magical songs you learnt to alter time in order to help you save Termina and its inhabitants.
Play the ‘Song of Time’ from Ocarina and you’ll go back to the start of the first day. This is great as a means of staying alive and continuing your quest. However anything you haven’t accomplished also returns to the state it was in on the first day. Didn’t finish a dungeon? Well you gotta start again. Didn’t bank your rupees? Better go find some more. Everything goes back to the beginning and this used to be mighty frustrating. One of the cool new changes is how certain things will stay the way they are. For instance discover a dungeon, then play the Song of Time and you’ll go back to the first day, but the dungeon stays unlocked. This gives you a full three days to beat it. It’s the little tweaks like this and the new layout of the games journal make it much more enjoyable than the older version.
The games hub Clock Town is where you spend most of your time. It’s a hustling bustling town that’s full of people who have problems that you are down to help out. This is where the three day and night cycle comes into its own. The town hustles and bustles all night and the citizens are up and about at all hours. Approaching them at different times of on different days will net you quests that are stored in your fancy new journey, easily and quickly navigated by the touch screen. Using you time manipulating ocarina you can change the fate of these people and earn yourself some masks.
Yup masks. The most important thing in the game. Each one has a special ability when you put it on, and there are plenty to acquire. Everything from walking on lava to bring invisible to enemies to talking to ghosts. Each one different and each one needed to progress the game (although some are only needed to do one specific quest).
Visually the game has had a hug uplift. If you do a side by side comparison between this and the original you’ll notice that everything just looks that
much better. If gives the world a new lease of life and everything, while still dark and terrifying, just looks that much cleaner and brighter. The game look better than Ocarina 3D and plays much better in bitesize chunks on a handheld. The fact you can complete a bit of a task and then save rather than go for a whole quest makes the gaming on the go element of Majora perfectly balanced.
I’m impressed with this remaster. Nintendo have lovingly recaptured the original N64 game and changed only what was needed to make the experience better. If you’re a fan of the series it’s a no brainer. If your unsure, or have never played a Zelda title before I’d recommend starting with Ocarina of Time. Still a fantastic game.