By Video_Game_King 44 Comments
The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask( What, you thought I was kidding with that minor joke in my Half-Life 2 blog?) Turns out that I wasn't. When I was doing the research for that joke (hey, can YOU name a mask in this game without resorting to a FAQ? Exactly.), I became pretty damn nostalgic for this game. How? I have no idea; I'm pretty sure that this blog is supposed to be an assassin to nostalgia. Unfortunately, it turns out that nostalgia is some type of immortal super being, leaving me with one option: grab Majora's Mask off my shelf, give it a blowjob, and jam that thing into my N64.
Yes, for once, I was playing this with a controller in hand, which leads me to my first unfair criticism: this game is blurry as shit. Yes, it's one of the best looking games for the N64, but good luck seeing it through what looks like about ten years of Gaussian blur. Then again, it could be my TV; after all, when I went into the Bomber's Notebook, I saw some suspiciously crisp sprites alongside portraits about as blurry as the rest of the game. Things only got worse for that criticism when I watched the ending and heard popcorn baking. You know what? I embrace the blur. Otherwise, I would have seen things more clearly and things would be even more horrifying than they already were. This has to be one of the most terrifying games in the Zelda series. Don't believe me? Look at shit like this. Or this. Or this. Scared yet? No? How? This was the game that introduced TINGLE. It seems to have been specifically designed to turn your ass into a roomy and clean storage space for all the demons permanently lurking behind you. I'm not even sure that it's a Zelda game, at times. If anything, it resembles Earthbound 64. I know that this sounds weird, but hear me out: five man band. An alien subplot right out of nowhere. Those not-Goron things that you see near the beginning of Ikana Canyon. Hell, just look at this and explain to me how the remnants of Earthbound 64 didn't leak into this and possibly Doshin the Giant (I can't be the only person who thinks that he's just a yellow Starman).
But of course, Majora's Mask is not an Earthbound game, but a Zelda game. Odd, because Zelda herself only appears in a flashback. Also, the game doesn't take place in Hyrule, and beloved characters, like Kaepora Gaebora and Ganondorf's two moms, only get fleeting cameos. So then what the hell is this game even about? Well, it takes place after Ocarina of Time...or during it...or before it...or maybe some weird combination, because the time travel thing makes the story really confusing. Anyway, Link's searching for Navi, but Skull Kid comes along and fucks things up. Link gives chase, only to be plunged into an alternate dimension. Within this alternate dimension, Skull Kid (or should I say Majora's Mask? It's not always clear where the Mask begins and where the Kid ends) sends Link to the Silent Hill dimension, which somehow turns him into a Deku scrub. To make things worse, Link then learns that the Moon has grown a face, and that in three days (as the Star Fox font dun duns into your head), it's going to plunge its face into the Earth like it was a single titty. He has to summon the four giants so that he can retrieve Majora's Mask (if he remembers it; the game doesn't seem to) and make sure that the Moon never touches that titty. If you're looking for more story than that, good luck. All I got was "Skull Kid and the Giants were once friends, but not anymore." But there is hope, dear readers!
Instead of focusing on the overall story tying everything together, Majora's Mask focuses on the smaller events. You wander from land to land, very literally assume the personality of some random dying hero (Dekus are an exception; in that case, you're just some Deku fuck), and heal that which plagues the land. Now that I think about it, Majora's Mask takes the Fragile Dreams approach to storytelling: set up a depressing world and hook the player with some deep emotional attachment. Who cares if the plot tying all these events together is pretty weak? It gets pretty easy to care for these people when you're rescuing a monkey from the death penalty or helping a pedophile marry a child. (What, nobody ever noticed that major plot element? Kafei is never shown as an adult (the ending cleverly refuses to show him at his own fucking wedding), so technically, part of the game has you going out of your way to help a pedophile catch her prey.) The only sad thing about it is that none of this will ever matter. No, not because it's a video game (fuck you for even thinking that), you asshole. It's because of the three day cycle. Remember that thing about the Moon wanting to have a face full of titty? Unless you're insane, there's no way that you can complete the game before the Moon crashes into the supple breast that is Termina. In enters the Song of Time, which, for whatever reason, now sends you back in time.
And this is where a lot of the problems with the game start. For some reason, fucking with the spacetime continuum resets all the quests you were doing and empties your inventory. That hard quest where you had to arrange a pedophile marriage? Gone. The high score you got in that really hard mini-game (I'm not going to specify, because there are quite a few hard mini-games)? Lost in the timeline. All those rupees? Actually, there's a bank for that, and nothing else. But do not despair! Your important equipment doesn't fly off into nothingness (I guess masks are invulnerable to time fuckery), and you don't have to go through dungeons over and over again to rebeat a boss if a particular sidequest requires it. It seems like Majora's Mask goes out of its way to make the three day feature as non-intrusive as physically possible, which just begs the question: why is it even here in the first place? I've already told you how much it takes from the game (your rupees, progress, potential emotional attachment), but what exactly does it add? All I noticed was that a few story events change up a bit depending on what day you see them, because that makes total sense, right? I'd say something about artificial lengthening, but I'm not into uncreative dick jokes. Besides, I don't think there's an hour count or anything, so if somebody wanted to make the game longer, somebody else probably didn't get the message.
Actually, that last part holds pretty true for the entire game. You don't even have to get into the actual game to see it (although it helps); the game requires the N64 Expansion Pack, but when you pop it in, you see only two saves. Wait, something doesn't add up: the game that requires a hardware expansion has less saves than the one that came out in 1998? And it has less dungeons? Yea, remember how there were a billion dungeons in Ocarina of Time? Guess how many there are in Majora's Mask? Four. Oh, and I might as well throw in the fact that the special items in each dungeon are all some variation on "arrow." So what about the rest of the stuff? You pretty much buy it whenever. I thought that the dev team got all of their laziness out of the way when they reused the Ocarina of Time engine. Now I can see why that game is so much more beloved. Actually, that's not fair, as the dungeons are pretty well crafted. Each one makes the best use of whatever form you used to get there, and working out all those weird puzzles gives you a noticeable feeling of satisfaction. The difficulty scales pretty nicely, too, going from the "it would actually be slower to speedrun this place" Woodfall to the "OK, you lost me" Stone Tower Temple. Look, I know that I'm not making a lot of jokes right now, but that's because there aren't a lot of jokes to be made. Yes, it's quite illogical for Gorons to build a temple that houses an artifact that they can't use; what do you want me to do about it?
Wait, I know: talk about masks. Remember how that was a tiny part of Ocarina of Time? Not anymore. You're going to collect a ton of masks over the course of the game, along with things that logically shouldn't be called masks (a hat, a hood, another hat, another hood, etc.). How many of them will actually be useful over the course of the game? Uh...five or six? Making these masks last isn't exactly one of the game's strong points. In fact, a lot of masks have only two purposes: get you the super awesome Fierce Deity Mask, and net you a Piece of Heart one time. That's it. This may sound as lazy as "more RAM means less dungeons", but remember that four dungeon thing? That means only four guaranteed hearts, which means an absolute fuckload of Pieces of Heart. At some point, you just have to create masks whose only purpose is to collect a Piece of Heart. Throw in some upgrades that aren't Pieces of Heart, and it's hard to see anybody 100%ing this game. So what did I do? 100%ed it. Every last Stray Fairy was returned to the Sega Saturn, every random mini-game was beaten to perfection, and every ounce of sanity was thrown into a furnace and slowly roasted into a fine turducken. Do not fuck with a man who has 100%ed Majora's Mask; they clearly have nothing left to lose.
- Imagine Fragile Dreams, only with an angry moon that's just begging for titty. Now you have a vague image of Majora's Mask in your mind. Or maybe you're just thinking about boobs now. Pervert.
- How can the three day thing simultaneously leave you with too much time AND not enough time?
- All the Zelda stuff is as decent as ever.
Akumajou Dracula X: Chi no Rondo ( You know, I should really make some type of special banner for these revisits.) I know that this is only the second one, but I need some way to tell you guys that I'm talking about not-obscure games that I got out of the way years ago. I'd say that this would be a decent way to attract readers, but...hold on....Well, I've done some research, and it kinda works. But enough talk! Have at you!
By which I mean "let's talk about Akumajou Dracula X: Chi no Rondo." Notice how I'm using the Japanese title. That's because I'm not quite sure whether rondo means "the one song you didn't see in Ocarina of Time" or "some Buddhist concept of death and rebirth", probably because the title uses both, somehow. The actual plot doesn't really help; it doesn't feature any rondos or Buddhists, but it does feature random German. Ich kann nicht verstehen Deutsch, but from what I can tell, evil is lurking about Europe, and the citizens are summoning Dracula in the hopes of driving off said evil. Again, I can't understand Germans. Richter can't, either, because being a Belmont, he decides to find Dracula and whip him into submission. (Did you hear that? Five pornographic fan arts were created in that instant.) Also, there are two princesses that need rescuing. Like Majora's Mask, this is pretty much all the story you're getting. Yes, I know that this is the game that introduced the "pretty cool, but we're still going to remind you that this is a video game" anime scenes, but you don't get a lot of those throughout the game. Hell, there's only one special (IE not the beginning, not the end, not when you rescue either of the ladies) cutscene in the entire game, and it's just Dracula saying "hey, humanity's just as bad as I am, maiden I randomly captured."
Actually, that's a bit of an unfair characterization. Dracula's one step above your typical "I am evil, bwa-ha-ha", reaching a level of culture and high class that you don't see in a lot of villains. Granted, he doesn't do a lot to hide his asshole status, but at the same time, it's hard to argue with what he's saying. The only major flaw he has is that he hired a guy named Shaft. I know what you're thinking, but unfortunately, he's white. You can't have a white Shaft. That would be like Dracula hiring a black skinhead. Actually, that scares the hell out of me. To shift focus away from this hypothetical person, I'll talk about something completely different: the characters. I'd say that this was the first game in the series to have multiple playable characters, but Dracula's Curse beat Chi no Rondo to the punch. It also did it a lot more efficiently, for several reasons. First, remember how there were multiple characters, Alucard included? Not counting Richter, you only get one: Maria. Not the grown-up version you fight in the Saturn version of Symphony of the Night, but the ten year old version who fights Dracula alongside her woodland friends. I'm not sure how it works, either, but that's the least of my problems. Here's the biggest one: you can't switch to Maria mid-game. If you want to play as a little girl, go back to the title screen. How could this game add less than Dracula's Curse?
Hold on, I forgot something that Chi no Rondo adds: all the cool music. Wait, that's not a valid addition! Granted, it's pretty damn cool (even when you hear the TurboGrafx-16 generated music), but that's not enough to validate the gimped character selection. What else do you have, Chi no Rondo? Levels? OK, that makes sense. If there's one thing that this game does well, it's the levels. You'll find yourself plummeting down waterfalls at high speeds, running away from a giant behemoth, and...what's that? You plunged into a hole? Not a problem! Like the awesomeness that is Sonic 3, falling down a hole does not mean instant death; instead, you unlock a completely separate part of the level. Are there any other games that reward idiocy? Probably, but I can't think of any. Besides, do any of those games have branching levels? I don't know, but this one does. If the little girl wasn't enough motivation to play the game again, this probably should be, especially since beating the game unlocks a new secret level. I'd go on about how you can now do backflips or how this is the game that introduced the "waste a bunch of hearts by tossing knives really fast" feature, but I think I made my point: Chi no Rondo is a pretty cool take on the Castlevania formula, even if people have been somewhat lying to you about all the cool features (if you want a ton of awesome anime scenes, try Lunar: Eternal Blue or something). Hell, it's probably the only reason to get a TurboGrafx-CD. Yes, I'm willing to fight you on that point, probably Japanese fans who aren't reading my blog.
- Dracula's a pretty cool villain in all of the two or three cutscenes he appears in.
- I imagine Maria would be pretty cool if it was easier to play as her.
- You know what's actually cool without any conditions or prerequisites? Everything else about the game.