Zelda is easily my favorite video game series ever. It seems like every game has something good to bring and even with almost 20 entries, only a few don't hold up too well for me. Ocarina of time is highly praised as the best along with Breath of the wild and a link to the past but of the more popular entries, Majora's seems almost forgotten due to Ocarina being such a huge influence on gaming.
On paper, Majora's Mask shouldn't be that good of a title. I mean the development of the game was only a year long and was rushed, it required many of the same assets from Ocarina of time and the game itself is a short game when compared to the other Zelda titles. It just doesn't seem like it should work out.
But damn, it works out well, the time mechanic in this game allows for some of my favorite sidequests in a game ever, showing up to certain places at certain times in the day is really enjoyable even if it means standing around doing nothing for awhile.
The dungeons in this game are not perfect, heck they really feel slow at times but the ideas used were genius. Playing stone tower upside down is unforgettable for me, the devs managed to throw together 4 quality dungeons that I actually enjoy more than most of the other Zelda dungeons.
The direction on items in this game was a lot different from the typical formula, rather than collecting various items in dungeons, you got a different arrow for each one, and that elemental arrow allowed you to progress in the dungeon. Traditional items were found outside of dungeons and were used to progress in the world (Bombs could be purchased to get to snowpeak, hookshot helped get through gerudo fortress). Items didn't feel required in this game for me and instead felt like an assistant.
That really takes me to the big parts of this game that I love, the atmosphere, characters and music. Majora's Mask is by no means a happy game, many emotions in this game are spread and you can just feel them. Ocarina of time just couldn't do that for me. the characters here are all emotional though, anger can be sensed, sadness is obvious and the joy that Anju and Kafei (probably botched the spelling) share at the end can be felt.. and those characters feel so real, for a game that came out 20+ years ago, those characters are very impressive.
The atmosphere in this game can be easily felt. No matter where you're at you have a different sense. The world is simply.. alive. Unlike any ocarina of time, this game world is a living world. Ikana Canyon feels haunted. The great bay feels deprived of happiness and clock town just feels like it's own world entirely, disconnected from the pain and sorrow outside.
The game is dense. The open field isn't quite as empty as ocarina's hyrule field. The small space that they had was used well and it led to some really satisfying secrets. Hell I didn't know you could open other graves in the graveyard on different nights until a year after I first completed the game as a kid.
Density isn't always needed and some games thrive off of empty land and that empty feeling like Shadow of the colossus, this game could've gone either way really. However unlike shadow of the colossus which raised questions like "why are these structures here, what was this?" There's more of a different curiosity spread and most of the time rather than being empty, you find something you wouldn't expect, like a creepy dude dancing on a snow tree at night.
The game being short makes the ending so bittersweet. You meet all of these characters and find a love for each of them but before long it's really just all over. There isn't time to grow with them. I find myself wishing there were more people to meet, more side quests to experience, but at the same time, it just feels right. You saved a world of people who felt saddened, scared and overall just doomed, you feel like more than a hero but at the same time like nothing at all when it's all said and done.
These are just things that, really haven't been recreated in many games since it seems. A few games will get some of these right on point like Skyrim with it's world that feels alive, the witcher 3 with characters that portray emotion, even the newest 3d Zelda, breath of the wild, has a world that feels alive but just not in the same way and I pray that the sequel to breath of the wild is able to recapture some of those majora's mask feelings.
Not everyone is going to enjoy the game. Some people hate the three day clock, some hate the save system and some might just hate the tediousness of actually getting to certain points in the game and the linearity. That's completely ok, not every game needs to be like this game and that's ok to remember.
We don't necessarily need another remaster or a full remake of this game but if Nintendo could dig up this style again I would be grateful. Even a port to the switch wouldn't be half bad. My dream is that Breath of the wild 2 is a darker game like this and has memorable characters to meet. Otherwise I hope to see this game remade at some point and not just with a graphics lift.. maybe loading screen removal and an expanded world. That's all just my hopes and dreams though.
Thanks for reading, hope you guys enjoyed
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