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The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask (Nintendo 64) artwork

The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask (Nintendo 64) review

"MM (the Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask) is perhaps the single most unique Zelda game. It did something that only one of the others did; it broke away from the classic Zelda story line. MM also has revamped graphics and a new musical score when compared to Ocarina of Time, but the combat is mostly the same. As for the length and difficulty of MM; the difficulty can be gauged, but this game has a very interesting innovation that makes it much more difficult to determine the length of the game: a t..."

MM (the Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask) is perhaps the single most unique Zelda game. It did something that only one of the others did; it broke away from the classic Zelda story line. MM also has revamped graphics and a new musical score when compared to Ocarina of Time, but the combat is mostly the same. As for the length and difficulty of MM; the difficulty can be gauged, but this game has a very interesting innovation that makes it much more difficult to determine the length of the game: a time limit.

This game is the first Zelda game to feature some sort of time constriction for the player. Instead of being able to take all the time in the world, you now have three game days to save the land of Termina. This system has several benefits, but it also has some disadvantages. MM's new system allows for a whole new layer to be added to the game, and makes it far more realistic. Certain pieces of heart or other extras can appear only on certain days, at certain times, and of course certain places. This makes collecting things both more difficult, and yet more satisfying. Additionally, now there is a sense of urgency to the game; if you don't finish now you'll have to start all over. Thankfully, not all is lost once time runs out; the Song of Time from OoT has found a new use: when you play it, you will be warped back to the dawn of the first day, and certain things will be saved. If you conquered a dungeon and then played the song of time, then everything will be reset in the dungeons, such as keys enemies (bosses and mini-bosses count,) but you will still have the heart container and the mask that you get for defeating the boss. Also, certain items you get in the overworld remain with you as well. If you find a bomb bag, then you will keep it, but any bombs you find will disappear when you go back to Day 1. Pieces of heart and bottles are also exempt from disappearance, as are all non-replenishable items (i.e. masks, the hookshot, your sword.) Rupees that are on your person are not exempt, however, so you must deposit them in the bank or they will disappear. This, of course, leads to many, many plot holes.

As I stated earlier, MM has its own unique story. You are travelling through some unknown forest on your horse, Epona, when you are suddenly robbed by a skull kid. He jumps on your horse and knocks you off, and then grabs the ocarina of time, which you had brought with you. The skull kid then puts a curse on you, and transforms you into a deku shrub! When you awaken from a terrible nightmare caused by becoming a deku shrub, he informs you that he dropped your horse off at a farm and then departs. However, one of his two fairies stays behind to hit you when you try to follow, and she gets trapped inside. The fairy, Tatl, after a short little rave about how stupid you are and how you have to help her get back to the skull kid, then joins you on your quest to turn back to normal. You are then able to open the door and navigate across a short obstacle course that requires you to use your new found deku powers. Afterwards, you find yourself inside the tower of Clocktown, and the travelling Mask Salesman (the Happy Mask Shop owner from Ocarina of Time) is there as well. He says that he can help you return to normal, but that you have to recover the precious item that was stolen from you. There is a catch though. In return for transforming you back into a human, the Mask Salesman wants you to recover something the skull kid stole from him: Majora's Mask. He then tells you how he worked so hard to get the mask and that it was cursed, for an ancient tribe had sealed an evil demon inside of it. The Mask Man also tells you that he will be leaving in three days, so he would like for you to get it back to him before that. Coincidentally, the Carnival of Time is scheduled for that exact date. There is also a suspiciously evil looking moon hanging up in the air (it has evil eyes and looks like its trying to eat something.) You will also discover very quickly that the townspeople are afraid that that the moon is going to fall, and the town guards want to evacuate the city, while the carpenters want to stick to tradition and hold the Carnival as scheduled. On the night of the third day, the Carnival of Time, them tower opens and you ascend it to discover the skull kid clenching your Ocarina, and proclaiming that he is going to destroy the town with the moon. Skull kid's other fairy, Tael, tells you to bring the four here here. He also mentions the swamp, the mountain, the ocean, and the canyon. You then have to get the Ocarina from him, and when you do, you'll have a flashback to Princess Zelda teaching you the Song of Time. You then use your...pipes, I think they're called, to warp back in time. Yes, the deku shrub does not play the Ocarina, but some big collection of pipes. You'll be standing in front of Mr. Mask Man and he will be very excited that you got your Ocarina. When you tell him you didn't get the mask, however, he begins to strangle at you while exclaiming how he needs his mask. However, he still transforms you back, and you journey off to do as Tael told you to do, whatever that is...

This story is very original, especially for a Zelda game, which rarely ever deviate from rescuing Princess Zelda from Ganon, or something very similar. However, the graphics are not so unique. As a matter of fact, these are the OoT graphics, the same sprites, sometimes the same names, but very different personalities. There is one difference between the graphics of OoT and MM, and that is that those of MM are far nicer, less block-like, and thus more realistic. That is the reason this game requires an expansion pack, because the graphics are more clear-cut. Other than some new enemies and characters, as well as some variations to some of the items, and the addition of a few items, that is the only difference betwixt there graphics. The developers did, however, alter the music and SFX a bit more.

Most of the classic Zelda themes are gone from this game, and they have been replaced by new themes. Now, that's not necessarily a bad thing, for, even though I personally love the classic Zelda themes, I'm completely open to new music. Some of the music is pretty good, such as that of Clocktown, which is kind of catchy. The dungeon music is a little different, though, for the first level's score is mostly some tribal song-like mixture of screams and hollars and what not. Not the greatest music ever. The theme of the second temple is rather forgettable (or I have a bad memory, since I've played through it twice and watched someone attempting to play through it.) Perhaps the most annoying music in the game was that of the third temple, for it was so depressing in a depressing level (the level sucked, IMO.) Stone Tower, the fourth temple, however, was a very enjoyable level, but I do not remember the tune,though I do know it was not annoying, and I seem to recall liking it, but not enough to remember it. Other places have their own themes; the basic overworld theme is a very good remix of the overworld theme song in Link to the Past, and is very enjoyable to listen to. In the way of SFX, other than the few new ones need for the new characters (such as Deku Link) I do not recall any sounds that were added since OoT. OoT had pretty good sound effects, though, so I have nothing against them being the same. Majora's Mask stole one other thing from OoT: the basic gameplay for Link.

In MM, you are Link, most of the time. Other times you will be Deku Link or one of his other transformations, but that's a different story. Link controls exactly like he does in OoT. Sword fighting was not enhanced at all, nor were any of his other attributes. Jumping is still really hard to do correctly, and you still use all the same buttons for the same things. Once again, this is not a terrible thing since OoT controlled pretty well (though not as good as Wind Waker) but it would have been nice to see some addition. However, Link's other forms control very differently. Deku Link cannot wield a sword, so instead uses a weak spin attack that causes him to move a bit faster and deal some damage to enemies. Deku Link also has a full body shield and a brand a few new abilities. Deku Link cannot swim, so he uses his first new ability: skipping across water. Though that may seem like a handicap, and most of the time it is, but it does have its uses (such as crossing poisonous water.) Deku Link can also drop into a special flower and then fly around when he jumps out (a very interesting ability.) The new abilities of Link's various transformation really help to differentiate this game from its predecessor, OoT. However, a few other changes have been made that may not be for the best.

MM makes a substantial change in the length of the game. The main game has been cut almost in half (it has half the number of levels, but they are longer than those of other games,) whereas the extra content has been increased quite a lot. Since there are four less dungeons than OoT, there are four less heart containers, but there are still twenty hearts in the game. This means that more heart pieces must be added, sixteen of them to be precise. There are also more bottles, which means it is harder to get a game over, but these bottles are much more spread out than those of OoT. There is also the addition of a fully functional mask system. Instead of you being a salesman for the Happy Mask Shop, and the masks not doing anything, now each and every mask has a unique ability, and there are a lot of them. The mask system is a very intricate addition to the game and was used pretty well, though some of the mask seem to exist only to get one piece of heart opr another mask, and otherwise are useless. However, Majora's Mask attempted to make up for their lack of dungeons by increasing their quality.

The learning curve in MM has to be much steeper to attain a difficulty equal to or greater than OoT, so the first dungeon is much, much harder than most Zelda beginning dungeons: the boss is no push-over, it implements some puzzles that require at least a little bit of thinking, and it is relatively hard to get into. This makes it a bit harder to simply jump into the game, for you don't get a nice, long tutorial-like level such as the Great Deku Tree in OoT or Hyrule Castle in Lttp. Overall, I prefer it this way, but it will probably alienate beginners in the long run. The actual lay-outs of the temples are very good. There tends to be one big puzzle that you are using all the little ones to complete; instead of going into one room, solving a puzzle, heading to the next room, doing a completely unrelated puzzle, and so on, the game actually makes it so that it's not just a repetitive cycle "grab the key" and "get through the room." The levels are far less linear than those of the other Zelda games, which is a very good thing. MM's temples also seem to be quite a bit more creative than most.

MM has a higher level of difficulty than its predecessors in the beginning, and it has its difficult spots later on, but doesn't really jump out as some incredibly difficult game, and it's not a piece of cake, but it does seem to be slightly more difficult than the others. The bosses are kind of fun, but don't really pose any threat (especially not the fourth one.) As for enemies, there are still a few Iron Knuckles thrown in, and the Wolfos, though not exactly difficult, are put in the areas leading up to the first and second level. The Armos got a spot in the fourth level, but they look very freaky now and are a bit tougher. There are some interesting mini-boss fights, however. There is one very interesting part about the bosses and mini-bosses, though, and that is that, once you beat them, they're not gone forever.

Majora's Mask does have replay value, but not in the same way as other Zelda games. You no longer have to sit through long intros that you've seen a hundred times; you no longer have to do those very simplistic and boring first levels; now all you have to do is go back in the level you want to play again, and start playing. Everything but the level's item will be reset, and you could simply refrain from using it until you would normally have. Or not. Also, if you just want to fight the boss over again, there is a convenient warp at the beginning of each level that activates once you defeat the boss normally.

The set-up of Majora's Mask is very interesting, and makes it great for item-hunters, but it is not for everybody. I personally hated this game (for a Zelda game) when it came out. I especially hated the third level. However, after deleting my file after beating the third temple in a fit of boredom, and replaying through all of the levels, I found it all pretty boring (since I had done it all only a week or so before.) Once I managed to actually finish the game, however, it felt very rewarding, and I started collecting the extras. I don't know why, but I actually started to like the game quite a lot, and as I type this review, I actually feel like playing through it again.

MM has a very interesting set-up. The story is highly-original, the combat is solid, the game has a good amount of difficulty, it includes the mask system, which supplies most of the extras, and it has a very innovative replay system. This game may not be the greatest Zelda game, and if you didn't like previous Zeldas you probably won't like this too much, but if you were a fan of OoT, you should definitely buy this game.

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Community review by lozlttp (June 28, 2006)

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