Released on October 26, 2000, The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask is the follow-up to previous Nintendo 64 favorite The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Majora's Mask features several technological upgrades over its predecessor, as well as new game mechanics, such as a time travel element which can be used to influence events in the game's non-linear structure. The game was developed by Nintendo EAD and published by Nintendo.
Critical reception was almost unanimous in favor of the game, with many critics praising the game's darker story, the time travel element, its non-linearity, and the evolution of Ocarina of Time's gameplay systems. Fan reception was more mixed, as is typical with a major Zelda release, with some fans complaining about the game's departure from the norm, as well as the reduced accessibility. In 2010, Majora's Mask was voted as "Game of the Decade" by users of GameFAQs.
The actual mechanics of controlling Link are identical to the mechanics in Ocarina of Time. Link moves with the analog stick, can lock on to enemies with the Z button, and equip three items to the three C buttons. The core sword-fighting handles exactly the same as it was in Ocarina of Time, as is playing the Ocarina and using items. However, unlike the previous installment, there is a much greater emphasis on time management, since Link is constantly on the clock. The game starts Link at 6:00 AM on the First Day (which can be observed on the new Clock icon at the bottom of the screen, displaying the time and the date) and the Moon will destroy Termina at 6:00 AM on the Third Day.
Since the seventy-two game hours last approximately fifty-four minutes of real time, it seemed, at the outset, that the game had provided Link with an impossible task. However, upon completing the game's tutorial level (in which Deku Link is confined to the city, allowing the player to see how the seventy-two hour cycle affected the game world) Link reclaims the Ocarina of Time. Playing the Song of Time on the Ocarina (identical to the version in Ocarina of Time) would warp Link back to the beginning of the First Day, starting again at 6:00 AM. By traveling back to the beginning of the First Day, the player has, effectively, an infinite amount of time to do everything needed in order to complete the game.
More importantly, the passage of time can be slowed down significantly by playing the Inverted Song of Time, the notes of the Song of Time backwards. While this slows down the in-game passage of time, it does not slow down Link's perception of time, giving the player just over two and a half hours to complete tasks in a given cycle.
To create a game that utilizes the player's need to travel back in time every two and a half hours, the entire game is designed around "scheduled events." Similar to the system used in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, every single character in the game world operates on their own "schedule." Non-player characters (NPCs) will appear in certain places only at certain times, and certain events can only be witnessed at certain times and at specific places. Link can learn the schedules of the various in-game characters by investigating them and (automatically) recording the information in his journal. The Journal can then be used to help Link meet up at specific locations to complete side missions, unlock the path to the next dungeon, or complete a dungeon altogether. Link can use this journal to be at the right place at the right time, allowing him to solve the puzzles necessary to move foreword, and complete NPC quests in order to earn items key to progressing in the game.
When the end of the Third Day draws near, Link can then warp back to the beginning of the First Day and continue on his journey through the same three days again. However, warping back to the start of the first day means that everything in the world moves back to the first day. All the puzzles solved to go to new areas are now again unsolved. The NPCs won't remember that Link solved their problems, because he hasn't done it yet. All the quests Link completed are no longer completed. Furthermore, once Link goes back in time, he loses all of the weapon ammunition he has collected (such as arrows and deku nuts) as well as all of the Rupees carried in his wallet and the small/ Big keys he obtained from the game's dungeons. Link will not, however, lose any masks, songs, sword upgrades, Rupees stored in the bank, or items obtained over the past three days.
This design setup, initially, seems maddening, but the game provides a few ways to mitigate the headache of repeating the same sections over and over again over seventy-two hours. First, Majora's Mask effectively splits game progression into three parts. To move forward in the game, the player must first go to the unique zone where the next objective is located. Next, the player has to find the entrance to the dungeon in the zone. Finally, the player has to complete the dungeon. Each of these steps can be completed in two-and-a-half hours and completing each of these steps rewards Link with a way to avoid repeating the puzzles/dungeon/traveling over and over again.
Completing the first two steps (going to the new area or finding the entrance to the dungeon) will usually put Link close to a warp point (in the form of an owl statue). By playing the Song of Soaring, Link can warp to any of these statues once having discovered them. Because songs and warp points don't disappear when Link travels back in time, the player can often times find the warp point, go back the beginning of the First Day, warp to the newly discovered point, and continue the game from there. This keeps the game’s time limit from being too unmanageable, as it simply encourages the player to play the game in chunks, completing one section, going back in time and moving onto the next section.
Defeating a dungeon's main boss will reward Link with a part of the Oath of Order, a song that can summon the four giants, protectors of Termina who are Clock Town's only hope in stopping the Moon. Just like the warp song and warp points, going back in time doesn’t cause Link to forget the song. Thus, all the player has to do is complete each of the game's four dungeon's once in order to learn the full Oath of Order to use against Skull Kid, the game's primary antagonist.
Shortly after defeating Ganondorf and saving Hyrule in Ocarina of Time, Link sets off on a new journey to reunite himself with "a lost friend," implied to be Navi the Fairy. With Epona and the Ocarina of Time, Link travels to a mysterious forest when he encounters the Skull Kid. Armed with the great power of Majora's Mask, the Skull Kid steals the Ocarina of Time, scares Epona away, and magically turns Link into a Deku Scrub. As Deku Link gives chase to Skull Kid, he inexplicably finds himself inside a mysterious clock tower. Inside, Link is greeted by the Happy Mask Salesman from Ocarina of Time, from who the Skull Kid stole Majora's Mask, claiming that it holds a terrible power. The Happy Mask Salesman tasks Link with recovering the mask within seventy-two hours, before, the Happy Mask Salesman claims, he must leave the town.
The game begins:
The town in question is the bustling locale of Clock Town, in the land of Termina (a parallel world to Link's Hyrule). After stepping outside the Clock Tower, Link (and the player) understand the reason they have only seventy-two hours to recover the Mask: the Moon is falling from the sky. Using the power of the dark mask, Skull Kid has turned the Moon into a terrible monster and has willed his creation to crash into Termina in seventy-two hours, precisely three days from the moment Link exits the clock tower.
Three days later, with the Moon threatening to crush Clock Town and destroy all of Termina, Link gets the Ocarina of Time back from the Skull Kid in Clock Town. He remembers the Song of Time and plays it as soon as he picks it up. This magically rewinds time to the beginning of the three days, when he first met the Happy Mask Salesman. Link and the Salesman seem to be the only ones who remember everything that happened in those three days. The Happy Mask Salesman sees the instrument in Link's hands and teaches him the Song of Healing which returns him to his original form, transforming the curse into a Deku Mask that will allow him to become a Deku Scrub at will. In return, the Happy Mask Salesman once again asks that Link retrieve Majora's Mask. To do so, he must venture into the four regions surrounding Clock Town and acquire the masks worn by four evil monsters. Only then can he face the Skull Kid and retrieve the mask. Now, Link has to once again take up the sword, and find a way to defeat Skull Kid, recover Epona, and stop the Moon from destroying Termina.
Over the course of Majora's Mask, Link will acquire a variety of masks that can confer various abilities. After completing the initial tutorial section, Deku Link learns the Song of Healing, and playing the song turns Link back to his human form, while containing the Deku form into a Deku Mask. Wearing the Mask at any time (which can be equipped to the C buttons like any other item) will turn Link back into the Deku scrub, while taking it off returns Link to Human form. Along with the Deku Mask, Link can find a Goron Mask (turning Link into a Goron) and a Zora Mask (turning Link into a Zora). These transformation masks are the more important of the game's 24 masks, as the game requires Link to switch between the various forms (Human Link, Deku Link, Goron Link and Zora Link) to complete puzzles and defeat Bosses. Each of the forms has specific abilities that the player can use to solve these puzzles.
Human Link is the most versatile of the 4 forms, and can use all of the items in the game that he finds during his travels (like the bow and hookshot, etc.). Human Link can pull himself onto ledges, grab onto heights, and has the greatest maneuverability in combat. Deku Link is too short to grab ledges, and cannot swim in water (the form can hop across Water, but after five hops, Link falls into the water and drowns). Deku Link can use magic to fire a magical spitball at opponents to stun them, as well as to pop balloons in the air. Deku Link can also launch out of flower pads, and use large petals as propellers to float to a new location (giving Link a float after his jump for more Air Control. Goron Link is extremely heavy, very slow in normal combat, has a hard time pulling himself up ledges, and is damaged greatly by Water. The Goron Mask lets Link, however, curl into a ball and roll at opponents, even growing spikes to damage enemies and break boulders (much like Sonic the Hedgehog). Zora Link can breathe underwater and swim much faster than Human Link. He can also use his fins as boomerangs (much like the Boomerang in Ocarina of Time), but the form has no melee attacks.
While only Link can use the various weapons in the game, all four forms can use the Ocarina of Time and play songs to solve puzzles. Each form creates a different instrument when the Ocarina is selected; Deku Link pulls out a large Organ and keyboard, Goron Link grabs a huge set of bongo drums, and Zora Link uses a marlin skeleton as a Guitar. In addition to these three masks, there are 21 other masks spread throughout the game. While many of the masks can be collected simply through normal game progression, many of the masks can only be earned by completing a certain NPC's quest (usually tied to that NPC's schedule, requiring Link to do something specific at a certain time). To collect the Fierce Deity Mask (the 24th and final Mask, which greatly increases Link's power and defense), the player will have to complete every sub quest in the game, which means collecting the other 23 masks. Like the weapons, songs and warp points, Masks aren’t lost when Link travels to the beginning of the "First Day."
|All Night Mask|
- This mask has one use only: to listen to Anju's Grandmother's stories, which normally make Link fall asleep.
- Listen to the first story (Carnival of Time) and choose all the top answers to receive a Piece of a Heart.
- Listen to the second story (Four Giants) and choose "I dunno" to receive another Piece of a Heart.
- To get it, on the First Night at 12:00 AM, Link has to stop Sakon the Thief from stealing the Bomb Bags from the Old Lady, or else those will be at the Curiosity Shop later.
- Then, on the Final Night at 10:00 PM, Link can buy the All-Night Mask at the Curiosity Shop for 500 Rupees.
- Wear this mask and press B to explode. Nothing else to it really. Use this when Link is out of Bombs.
- Hold R immediately after Link presses it to not take any damage!
- To get it, save the Old Lady in North Clock Town on the First Night at 12:00 AM from being robbed by Sakon the Thief. She'll give Link this as a reward.
- Wear this and press B to parade small animals around.
- Link can use it at the chicken coop at Romani Ranch to make all of the ten baby chicks grow up instantaneously one by one. Grog will reward Link with the Bunny Hood.
- To get it, go to the Laundry Pool in Clock Town during the First or Second Night and talk to Guru-Guru who is practicing there by himself. He will talk about the past and give Link the mask he stole because he doesn't need it anymore.
- Wear this to run twice as fast, thus, jump twice as far! This is extremely useful.
- Also, wear this while playing the Postman's Timing Game to see the timer for the full 10 seconds.
- To get it, go to the chicken coop at the back of Romani Ranch and use the Bremen Mask to parade the ten baby chicks around. If Link gets all of them, they will one by one grow up. Once they are all finished, Link will receive his prize.
- Wear this to speak with and command the warriors of Ikana, the Stalchildren (skeletons).
- To get it, play the Sonata of Awakening to the giant skeleton built into the wall near Dampé's house. Chase him down and kill him. Once he's defeated, run up the trail and speak with him.
- He will then grant Link the contents of the chest behind him. After he disappears, Link must jump to the other side using the Bunny Hood, the Zora Mask, or get as close as he can and Hookshot to the chest.
- Wear this and talk to the people arguing in the Mayor's Office to make them stop. Afterwards, talk to the Mayor by himself to receive a Piece of a Heart.
- To get it, complete the Anju & Kafei Quest. Go to that section to see how.
|Circus Leader Mask|
- This mask has one, simple use in the game. To cause the thieves (the Gorman Brothers) to stay far away when chasing Link and Cremia on the way to Clock Town through Milk Road.
- To get it, go to the Latte Milk Bar during the First or Second Night and play each part of the song for Toto the band leader of the Indigo-Go's in all four forms. Gorman will cry and give this mask in thanks.
- Wear it with (C) to assume Deku form. Use (C) to change back.
- This allows Link to interact with other Deku Scrubs, stun enemies, hop on water, use flowers to fly, as well as shoot bubbles once he learns it from the Great Fairy. Because Link is made of wood, fire is his weakness in this form.
- To get it, Link must get back his Ocarina of Time from Skull Kid and speak with the Mask Salesman.
|Don Gero Mask|
- After Goht is defeated, the whole Snowhead area will begin turning back to normal. In the lake in Mountain Village (where the Smiths are) there are some lily pads and a lone Frog. We have to find the other four frogs and bring them here by talking to them with the Don Gero Mask on. When that is done, return here and talk to them using the mask to receive a Piece of a Heart.
- To get it, Link must light the torches in the Goron Shrine after he puts the Elder's Son to sleep with the Goron Lullaby. After Link has lit them all, the chandelier above will begin to spin. Next, use the Goron Mask to roll into each of the five jars that make up the chandelier until he breaks the one with the Rock Sirloin inside.
- While wearing the Goron Mask, take the Rock Sirloin all the way back to the Mountain Village and throw it up the shivering Goron atop the ledge. He will eat it and have the strength to get home. As thanks, he will give Link the frog-like mask he is wearing.
|Fierce Deity Mask|
- Wear it with (C) to assume Fierce Deity form. Use (C) to change back.
- While wearing this mask, Link looks very much like his adult form from Ocarina of Time, but a lot stronger. Link's sword is now two handed and does a significant amount more damage. Also, while Z targeting, he can shoot beams at his enemies. The catch is that it can only be used in Boss rooms.
- In the Japanese Version, people call him Oni Link. Oni is a Japanese word roughly meaning "ogre demon". In English, this doesn't make too much sense and is considered "evil" to call someone a demon, but it's really just to insinuate power. Thus, in English, he is called Fierce Deity Link.
- To get it, Link has to give all 20 normal masks to the kids on the Moon. The last child, wearing Majora's Mask, will give Link this mask because he has no more left.
- This mask allows Link to get into Ikana Canyon. In certain areas around Ikana it will also cause Garos to appear. Defeat them in duels to get hints.
- To get it, Link has to beat the Gorman Brothers in a race after he gets Epona back
- Wear this and become gigantic! It costs Magic to wear though, and can only be used in the desert area Link battles Twinmold in.
- He gets it in the Stone Tower Temple before the boss battle.
- Link looks scary with this mask, even Gibdos think he's one of them!
- To get it, he must fix the river in Ikana Canyon. Go to the cave where to the east and play the Song of Storms to restore the well and start up the Music Box House.
- Wait for Pamela to leave (Link can lay a Bomb to make her get out earlier) and go inside. Run downstairs and Pamela's Father will pop out of the wardrobe. Play the Song of Healing to return things to normal and receive the this mask.
- Wear it with (C) to assume Goron form. Use (C) to change back.
- This allows Link to interact with other Gorons, move heavy objects, roll, Goron Stomp, walk on lava, and even punch with fists of fire.
- To get it, :Lnk must speak with the Spirit of Darmani who is waiting outside the cave after Link gets the Lens of Truth. He will lead Link back to the Mountain Village and up a slope with invisible ladders. Climb up to the top and enter his grave, then speak to him. He will beg Link to heal his soul. Play the Song of Healing to receive the mask.
|Great Fairy Mask|
- This mask will float and shimmer when there's a Stray Fairy in the room. It will also make those Stray Fairies fly towards Link unless they are trapped.
- Link has to use this in order to put the Great Fairies back together.
- To get it, grab the Stray Fairy at either the Laundry Pool (day) or East Clock Town (night) and bring it to the Fairy Fountain in North Clock Town in Link's normal form.
- Wear this mask to ask people about Kafei. It's only used a couple times in the Anju & Kafei Quest. See that section for more information.
- To get it, go to the Mayor's Residence on the First or Second Day and enter the room on the right. Talk to Madame Aroma and accept her request to find her missing son, Kafei.
- Wear this and press B to dance.
- If Link goes to West Clock Town during the First or Second Night, Link'll find the Rosa Sisters practicing. Dance for them to get a Piece of a Heart.
- To get it, go northeast of the entrance to North Clock Town in Termina Field and Link'll see a pale, half naked man dancing atop one of the giant mushrooms. Jump over to him and play the Song of Healing to get the mask.
- There are circles of bushes that will come to life when Link attacks one of them. They are located in North Clock Town, Milk Road, and Mountain Village (in spring).
- Attack one to make the Keaton appear, who will ask Link five questions. See the Keaton Questions section for more information.
- Link gets it during the Anju & Kafei Quest. See that section for more information.
|Mask of Scents|
- This mask allows Link to see hidden mushrooms in the Mysterious Woods next to the Magic Hag's Shop, right next to wear Koume get's beat up by Skull Kid.
- Bring them back to Kotake and she'll know how to make Blue Potions and the first one is free!
- To get it, Link must race the Butler in the Deku Shrine to the side of the Deku Palace after he rescues the Princess. If he have the Bunny Hood, it'll make things much easier.
|Mask of Truth|
- When Link gets to the end, the Butler will give this mask as reward.
- This mask allows Link to read the minds of small animals (by picking them up) and talk to Gossip Stones.
- To get it, Link has to kill all the Skulltulas in the Skulltula House in Southern Swamp. See the Skulltula House section for more information.
- This mask allows Link to get Rupees out of the Mailboxes around Clock Town. The first time Link check the Mailbox in East Clock Town near the exit, he will get a Piece of a Heart.
- Link gets it during the Anju & Kafei Quest. See that section for more information.
- Wear this to get into and buy milk at the Latte Milk Bar in Clock Town.
- To get it, save Romani Ranch from "Them" on the First Night from 1:00 AM to 4:30 AM.
- Next, be at the ranch at 6:00 PM on the Second Night to hitch a ride with Cremia to Clock Town. Along the way, Link'll have to take a detour and defend the cart against thieves (the Gorman Brothers in disguise).
- Cremia will thank Link by giving him the Romani's Mask in thanks.
- Wear this to be ignored by guards that would normally throw Link out, such as those in the Deku Palace and the Pirates' Fortress.
- To get it, go to the road leading to Ikana Canyon and right before that cliff where the one-eyed guy appears there's a circle of stones. Use the Lens of Truth to see an invisible soldier named Shiro.
- Give him a Red Potion to heal him of his invisibility and he'll give Link this mask
- Wear it with (C) to assume Zora form. Use (C) to change back.
- This allows Link to interact with other Zoras, swim incredibly fast, fight underwater, use Link's fins as weapons, and even shoot them out like boomerangs.
- To get it, Link must get Epona back from Romani Ranch and jump over the wall leading to Great Bay from Termina Field. When Link gets there, he will see something floating in the water. Help this Zora get back to shore by pushing him and then hear his final song explaining the situation. Play the Song of Healing to put the spirit of Mikau the guitarist into a mask.
Majora's Mask was created using an updated, more robust version of the Ocarina of Time engine. Part of the game's superior visual fidelity is due to the game's required use of the Nintendo 64 "Memory Pak." The expanded RAM capacity of the pak (8 MB instead of the initial 4MB inside the N64) allowed for more detailed character models than seen in Ocarina of Time, as well as higher resolution textures and less "fog" obscuring objects in the distance (meaning a longer draw distance). The pak also provided slight improvements to the game's frame rate, as well as superior lighting effects.
While the game looks better than its predecessor, Majora's Mask still retains the art design seen in Ocarina of Time. While many of the game's textures, locations, and effects are new, character models were lifted straight out of Ocarina of Time and only slightly changed for the new game. For instance, the Twinrova witches (the boss fight from Ocarina of Time's spirit temple) were potion sellers in Majora's Mask, and the Kakariko/Hyrule Castle soldiers now patrol the streets of Clock Town. Some of the character models aren't altered in the slightest from Ocarina of Time, but most of them have been upgraded. For example, Link looks distinctly different from the appearance of "Young Link" in Ocarina of Time.