Sunday, April 10, 2011

Top Ten Favorite Games: #8--The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask

I get a weird—but good—feeling in the pit of my stomach whenever I look at the box-art for Majora’s Mask. Those creepy dead eyes staring back at you. It’s just a sense of unease. That’s really the atmosphere of Zelda Majora’s Mask. That everything is just off, or twisted to make you feel that this isn’t Hyrule anymore.

I wasn’t even ready for a new Zelda when Majora’s Mask was released. I was still engrossed in Ocarina of Time. But the things that Miyamoto was saying caught my attention.

I remember reading GamePro, and seeing the time clock that was present in all the screenshots for Majora’s Mask. I was somewhat afraid, like most Zelda fans. “Will this game have a time limit?” was the common question. But upon learning that there would be a Back to the Future-esc pace to Majora’s Mask, in which you could travel back in time freely, eliminated any worries I had.

Looking to the sky in Majora’s Mask is a startling experience--the Moon has a face. And I loved how the Moon got closer and closer as time passed. By the third day (the final day in which you can stop the Moon from falling), the Moon is so close you can almost touch it. Every time the Moon gets nearer the entire world shakes, no matter where you are, you can feel it. It was a chilling effect, and I loved it.

Only thing worse than waking up to this, is waking to Julia Roberts big-ass mouth!

Majora’s Mask was just different. I thought the Zelda series would go in a new direction upon its release. Unfortunately we know that hasn’t been the case. Majora’s Mask is the “black sheep” of the Zelda series—well maybe Zelda 2 takes that title, but Majora’s Mask definitely had a mixed reception when it was first introduced.

The dark, doomsday-day aesthetic worked so well in Majora’s Mask. It’s funny that I find Zelda Twilight Princess unappealing since it shares a similar atmosphere. That may be why I like Majora’s Mask, it’s one of a kind, and to emulate that, i.e. Zelda Twilight Princess, is foolish.

Zelda Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask are the two Zelda games I always look back on fondly, but for different reasons.

Ocarina was a true rendition of the “legend” that has become synonymous with the Zelda series: Ganondorf tries to steal the Triforce, and kidnap Princess Zelda—Link tries to save the land of Hyrule, defeat Ganon, and save Princess Zelda. This “legend” has been retold in almost every single Zelda to date. Not Majora’s Mask though.

Majora’s Mask is a standalone story. No Ganondorf, no Princess Zelda (there is a small cameo), no Hyrule, and no Triforce. It wasn’t even a story about Link; it was about the people of Termina (the name of the central town that’s the focus of Majora’s Mask’s story) and their situation. And guess what? It worked. 

Damn! It's been a few years, but I don't remember this in the game...

Creativity goes a long way. And every Zelda since Majora’s Mask has had that creative and ingenuity curtailed. I don’t know why. Majora’s Mask was different, and it was good. It was a free-flowing story with impending doom, drama, love, intrigue, death (nearly every mask Link receives is from someone who has just died), and character development.

Character development in which you had the chance to help people fix their lives before the moon crashed. You actually had a journal that kept notes on every single person you met in Majora’s Mask, and what their problem was. When you look back on it, nearly half of Majora’s Mask’s playthrough is spent helping various people throughout the land. Majora’s Mask was the first game that made me feel like Termina was a living world where the virtual people actually had lives; they had places to go and things to do, and you felt like just a piece of the whole puzzle.

Majora’s Mask blended the emotions of unease and hopefulness together to create a memorable game. It won’t be duplicated. Not until Nintendo wants to abandon the “legend” formula that all Zelda games have fallen into. And if that’s the case I won’t play another Zelda game again. I’m fine with that. Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask are special to me…well the Zelda series since, as a whole, is mediocre--Nintendo is to blame for that.

1 comment:

  1. Props on the post, I think it's well put together, but I just could never get into that title myself...on the contrary, I was a pretty big fan of Link's Awakening DX and Capcom's Oracle of Ages. Something about the subtle charm in those games was just fantastic for me, and they captured a challenge/simplicity juxtaposition that I haven't seen in other Zelda titles...maybe I just like 2D better. ::shrugs::