I finally beat Majora's Mask.

Let me begin with my history with the Legend of Zelda series, so as to explain why I played this game to completion (for the first time) 12 years after its initial release, and am writing about it now (well, I'm writing about it because I have nothing else to write about on this blog).

Ocarina of Time came out in 1998, and while I did not buy it, I rented it (because that was in the 90s when every town had its own video game rental place). I didn't really like it that much. I was only 8 at the time, and I just didn't care for it. Same thing happened in 2000 with Majora's Mask, except that game had the added bonus of being weird and kinda creepy. To this day, I still think that moon glaring down at the planet is the most ominous thing ever put in a video game, and the process of Link transforming is still disturbing.

That image has haunted me for the better part of the last twelve years, and if anything, the other two transformations are even more disturbing (but I never got that far when I rented it back in the day).

Anyway, in the years since, I managed to play all the other 3D Zelda games, and found them all to be excellent (especially Twilight Princess, which remains my favorite). But not Majora's Mask. At least until I was able to get it free from Club Nintendo.

So, I downloaded it, and started playing it. A few days later, I finished it. And before I go on, I want to say that I wanted to enjoy this game. I wanted the game's goofy/weird charm to outweigh its negatives.

But that did not end up being the case. While the game is definitely weird, and dark, and kinda creepy (all of which I think are good), it's just...How should I put this...It's just not that good of a game. Well, fundamentally it's just Ocarina of Time, because it was made on the same engine and has the same controls and everything. When I say it's a bad game, I'm referring to things like the dungeons. They're not good.

"But what about the Stone Tower?!" Says everyone who supports Majora's Mask. Yes, the Stone Tower is conceptually brilliant. On paper it should be one of the best dungeons in the series. The fact that the dungeon can be flip-turned upside down is crazy. But the fact that, aside from two rooms, you have to exit the dungeon in order to activate this "feature" was disappointing to me. It was a great idea for a dungeon, but it felt completely underutilized, and aside from that one gimmick, the dungeon isn't that good. It's still easily the best in the game, but that's not really saying much. I don't really want to go into specifics, but too much of the dungeons (mainly the earlier ones) revolved around "platforming," for lack of a better word. And that inevitably led to me falling off of stuff all the time, which was a really big pain in the second one, and resulted in my having to go through a bunch of rooms more times than I would have if I didn't keep falling off.

Yes, part of that is just user error in my being bad at the game. The same goes for the boss fights, that I did not find particularly good, and had to re-fight several of them (especially the boss of the Stone Tower, which the internet said was super easy, but that wasn't the case for me). I sort of want to play it on the controls and the camera, but that feels a little like a cheap shot since it was an N64 game, and they did the best with what they had available. Conversely, I played through Ocarina a few years ago (also on a Wii with a GameCube controller), and I never had any problems in that game.

And so far as the out of dungeon stuff goes, well, I didn't really get into much stuff outside of the main quest stuff. Why, you ask? I'm not sure. I just got going on that, and the next thing I knew I was halfway through the game and I didn't feel like stopping to try to find a bunch of side quests. Part of it is the fact that everything is time based, and in the sense that events happen at certain times on certain days, and if you miss something, you have to go back to the beginning and restart it. The same is true in dungeons too. You keep whatever the "dungeon item" is, but everything else resets. That happened to me in the Stone Tower, so I had to go and do a bunch of stuff to re-open the path to the boss, and I was understandably disgruntled.

However, this resetting "feature" is also one of my favorite parts of the game. Not because it forces things to be redone, but because these things reset, and Link keeps whatever the rewards are. And since he keeps the stuff, there's no reason to redo the things, so of course you don't. And that kinda makes Link this total asshole who only cares about himself, and abandons people once he's gotten everything he needs from them. I think it's hilarious, and probably not something that the developers thought of at all.

I feel like there are a lot of things in this game that the developers may not have thought out as well as they should have. For example, in order to get access to the third dungeon, you have to take part in what is effectively a fetch quest to find these seven things (not Dragon Balls, unfortunately), four of which are in one area, and the other three in another. Four of them are hidden in a fortress filled with lady pirates, and you have to sneak past them to get the four things.

Wait, I know what you're thinking, "There was a lousy stealth bit in Ocarina of Time where you had to sneak past lady thieves!" Yup. They even reused the same character models for the lady pirates from Ocarina. And no, the actual act of sneaking in and around isn't that hard, but the problem is that each of these seven things requires its own empty bottle to be carried. And I only had one empty bottle. Yes, my fault for only having one, and not taking the time to find more, but it's still fundamentally bad game design when the game punishes me for not having enough empty bottles, especially when none of the other Zelda games require you to have empty bottles for story related things, and nothing else in the game suggested that I should have more empty bottles (or gave me any hint as to how I could procure them). So I was in a position of either leaving and re-infiltrating this place a bunch of times, or going onto the internet to figure out how to get more empty bottles (which probably would have been the smart thing to do).

So, yes, a lot of my problems with the game came from my lack of doing side stuff, which ended up making the game harder for me in the long run. But I beat it, and I'm glad that I did if only so I could say that I beat it. And there are some genuinely good moments in the game, but I find it hard to recommend it to anyone for any reason other than being able to say that you've finished all of the 3D Zelda games.

In other news, I borrowed Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 from my cousin yesterday. I started playing it around 6:40 AM EST today, and finished it around 11:30 AM EST today. I don't really feel like going into detail about it, because at this point everyone knows what Call of Duty games are, but I do want to say that I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I was going to. Yes, it's unflinchingly linear, and all the other things that people complain about, but it's also completely ridiculous and insane, and I love ridiculousness and insanity, so I enjoyed the game a lot. In comparison to the other CoD games that I've played, I would say that I enjoyed it more than Modern Warfare 2 and Call of Duty 2, but not as much as Call of Duty 4 or Black Ops. And I borrowed Gears of War 3 from the same cousin today when I returned his copy of MW3, so I hope this leads to a streak of me borrowing and playing short-ish shooters that I want to play but not pay for, because he (and his brother) buy a whole lot of games that they end up not playing much of.

Beyond that, well I saw Men in Black 3 the other day, and I enjoyed it a lot. I think it's better than MIIB (which I liked more than most people do), but not as good as the first one. Josh Brolin is especially brilliant as young Agent K.

That's it! I'll write something up when I beat Gears 3, which I am very excited to play because I liked the story in the first two games (well, the second one, the first didn't really have a story beyond bringing a bomb somewhere).

5 Comments
6 Comments
Posted by MooseyMcMan

Let me begin with my history with the Legend of Zelda series, so as to explain why I played this game to completion (for the first time) 12 years after its initial release, and am writing about it now (well, I'm writing about it because I have nothing else to write about on this blog).

Ocarina of Time came out in 1998, and while I did not buy it, I rented it (because that was in the 90s when every town had its own video game rental place). I didn't really like it that much. I was only 8 at the time, and I just didn't care for it. Same thing happened in 2000 with Majora's Mask, except that game had the added bonus of being weird and kinda creepy. To this day, I still think that moon glaring down at the planet is the most ominous thing ever put in a video game, and the process of Link transforming is still disturbing.

That image has haunted me for the better part of the last twelve years, and if anything, the other two transformations are even more disturbing (but I never got that far when I rented it back in the day).

Anyway, in the years since, I managed to play all the other 3D Zelda games, and found them all to be excellent (especially Twilight Princess, which remains my favorite). But not Majora's Mask. At least until I was able to get it free from Club Nintendo.

So, I downloaded it, and started playing it. A few days later, I finished it. And before I go on, I want to say that I wanted to enjoy this game. I wanted the game's goofy/weird charm to outweigh its negatives.

But that did not end up being the case. While the game is definitely weird, and dark, and kinda creepy (all of which I think are good), it's just...How should I put this...It's just not that good of a game. Well, fundamentally it's just Ocarina of Time, because it was made on the same engine and has the same controls and everything. When I say it's a bad game, I'm referring to things like the dungeons. They're not good.

"But what about the Stone Tower?!" Says everyone who supports Majora's Mask. Yes, the Stone Tower is conceptually brilliant. On paper it should be one of the best dungeons in the series. The fact that the dungeon can be flip-turned upside down is crazy. But the fact that, aside from two rooms, you have to exit the dungeon in order to activate this "feature" was disappointing to me. It was a great idea for a dungeon, but it felt completely underutilized, and aside from that one gimmick, the dungeon isn't that good. It's still easily the best in the game, but that's not really saying much. I don't really want to go into specifics, but too much of the dungeons (mainly the earlier ones) revolved around "platforming," for lack of a better word. And that inevitably led to me falling off of stuff all the time, which was a really big pain in the second one, and resulted in my having to go through a bunch of rooms more times than I would have if I didn't keep falling off.

Yes, part of that is just user error in my being bad at the game. The same goes for the boss fights, that I did not find particularly good, and had to re-fight several of them (especially the boss of the Stone Tower, which the internet said was super easy, but that wasn't the case for me). I sort of want to play it on the controls and the camera, but that feels a little like a cheap shot since it was an N64 game, and they did the best with what they had available. Conversely, I played through Ocarina a few years ago (also on a Wii with a GameCube controller), and I never had any problems in that game.

And so far as the out of dungeon stuff goes, well, I didn't really get into much stuff outside of the main quest stuff. Why, you ask? I'm not sure. I just got going on that, and the next thing I knew I was halfway through the game and I didn't feel like stopping to try to find a bunch of side quests. Part of it is the fact that everything is time based, and in the sense that events happen at certain times on certain days, and if you miss something, you have to go back to the beginning and restart it. The same is true in dungeons too. You keep whatever the "dungeon item" is, but everything else resets. That happened to me in the Stone Tower, so I had to go and do a bunch of stuff to re-open the path to the boss, and I was understandably disgruntled.

However, this resetting "feature" is also one of my favorite parts of the game. Not because it forces things to be redone, but because these things reset, and Link keeps whatever the rewards are. And since he keeps the stuff, there's no reason to redo the things, so of course you don't. And that kinda makes Link this total asshole who only cares about himself, and abandons people once he's gotten everything he needs from them. I think it's hilarious, and probably not something that the developers thought of at all.

I feel like there are a lot of things in this game that the developers may not have thought out as well as they should have. For example, in order to get access to the third dungeon, you have to take part in what is effectively a fetch quest to find these seven things (not Dragon Balls, unfortunately), four of which are in one area, and the other three in another. Four of them are hidden in a fortress filled with lady pirates, and you have to sneak past them to get the four things.

Wait, I know what you're thinking, "There was a lousy stealth bit in Ocarina of Time where you had to sneak past lady thieves!" Yup. They even reused the same character models for the lady pirates from Ocarina. And no, the actual act of sneaking in and around isn't that hard, but the problem is that each of these seven things requires its own empty bottle to be carried. And I only had one empty bottle. Yes, my fault for only having one, and not taking the time to find more, but it's still fundamentally bad game design when the game punishes me for not having enough empty bottles, especially when none of the other Zelda games require you to have empty bottles for story related things, and nothing else in the game suggested that I should have more empty bottles (or gave me any hint as to how I could procure them). So I was in a position of either leaving and re-infiltrating this place a bunch of times, or going onto the internet to figure out how to get more empty bottles (which probably would have been the smart thing to do).

So, yes, a lot of my problems with the game came from my lack of doing side stuff, which ended up making the game harder for me in the long run. But I beat it, and I'm glad that I did if only so I could say that I beat it. And there are some genuinely good moments in the game, but I find it hard to recommend it to anyone for any reason other than being able to say that you've finished all of the 3D Zelda games.

In other news, I borrowed Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 from my cousin yesterday. I started playing it around 6:40 AM EST today, and finished it around 11:30 AM EST today. I don't really feel like going into detail about it, because at this point everyone knows what Call of Duty games are, but I do want to say that I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I was going to. Yes, it's unflinchingly linear, and all the other things that people complain about, but it's also completely ridiculous and insane, and I love ridiculousness and insanity, so I enjoyed the game a lot. In comparison to the other CoD games that I've played, I would say that I enjoyed it more than Modern Warfare 2 and Call of Duty 2, but not as much as Call of Duty 4 or Black Ops. And I borrowed Gears of War 3 from the same cousin today when I returned his copy of MW3, so I hope this leads to a streak of me borrowing and playing short-ish shooters that I want to play but not pay for, because he (and his brother) buy a whole lot of games that they end up not playing much of.

Beyond that, well I saw Men in Black 3 the other day, and I enjoyed it a lot. I think it's better than MIIB (which I liked more than most people do), but not as good as the first one. Josh Brolin is especially brilliant as young Agent K.

That's it! I'll write something up when I beat Gears 3, which I am very excited to play because I liked the story in the first two games (well, the second one, the first didn't really have a story beyond bringing a bomb somewhere).

Moderator
Edited by CJduke

Well, at least you have beaten all the 3D Zelda's now. I still would like to play Skyward Sword at some point but that probably won't happen. Also I agree that Call of Duty 4 and Black Ops are the best ones, and I'm kinda excited over Black ops 2 (because of false hope that the game and the multiplayer in general will be a lot different).

Edited by Live2bRighteous

All of what you mentioned is extremely true. Though, when I was a kid... all the time traveling didn't quite click with my brain at the time, creating an extremely frustrating experience. I should probably try to get back at it again...

EDIT: Speaking of it being creepy, I just remembered that hand in the toilet inside that hotel... jesus....

Posted by TentPole

I don't like that game.

Posted by project343

Majora's Mask is my favourite Zelda game, period. Why? Because it's so fucking weird. It just takes a massive shit on the franchise's recycled tropes. I'd probably never go back and play it again, and would much rather play most other titles in the series, the uniqueness of that title totally grounds it as unbelievable in my opinion.

Posted by Superkenon

Majora's Mask is easily one of my favorites, probably because it's so damn peculiar. Can see why it wouldn't sit well with everyone though. You really have to embrace it for all it is to get the full worth of it, and when you're mainly just there to "finish" it then you're likely not to put much investment in it. It's a tough nut to crack for sure, so I tend to respect dissenting opinions. ;)

You really did do yourself a disservice though, by foregoing the sidequests - and I don't just mean because you missed out on all the rewards. I think the sidequests in Majora's Mask are by far the best and most interesting in the series, especially the more involved ones. Some surprisingly intricate stuff lurking behind the scenes, and you tackle them like you're some kind of detective. Back in the day, I remember actually following NPCs around, learning their schedules and piecing together all these individual stories to learn how it all forms this big picture. And once you do figure it out, you use the knowledge you've gained across multiple resets to work all the fronts properly to get the happy conclusion.

Brings me to one of the things I like best about the resetting, actually. Missions can fail, "irreversibly." It's one of the rare cases in a video game where you can actually see the results of something not goin' quite right, and you feel bad about it - rather than just getting the "try again?" option and acting as though it didn't happen. Yes, you end up literally resetting time, but it still happened. For all you know, that timeline still exists and you left 'em completely borked. And then a moon falls on it. Haha.

By the way, I'm going to disagree with you, and say the developers totally did consider the ramifications of Link's constant "resetting". They're mischievous rascals, that lot. I picture them giggling along at a lot of the crazy, oddly dark moments in the game. And man, are those there. Especially at the end of one of the sidequests, there's a horribly bittersweet moment.

But I'm rambling, as I tend to do. Thanks for putting the blog up. I may disagree with most of it, fanboy as I am, but it was a good read.