fivegrand's The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask (Collector's Edition) (Nintendo 64) review

The Zelda franchise's own cult classic

Majora's Mask is a terrible Zelda game. There's no princess to save, there are only a handful of dungeons, and you're not even playing as the traditional Link for a lot of the game. Fortunately, if the game is taken out of context it shines just as brightly as Ocarina of Time, because it is able to expand outward from the usual Zelda trappings and become a truly unique experience. By focusing on a dark, off-beat world filled with  interesting, fleshed-out characters, the game creates an entirely new world for Link to explore and provides plenty of opportunities to leave your mark on the inhabitants of Termina (which is described as some sort of parallel universe, with many of the character models from Ocarina of Time making reappearances as entirely new characters). The game has been derided for a number of reasons, but a lot of what may have at one point seemed like mistakes now seem prescient and forward-thinking, even if they are sometimes frustrating.   
Whereas other Zelda games create an epic adventure for Link to tackle, Majora's Mask has you doomed from the start. The moon (with its own smiling face) will crash down on Termina in 3 game days no matter what you do. You can slow down time, but you're only really lengthening your time until Termina is destroyed. Luckily, you can return to the beginning of the 3-day cycle at any time (after acquiring your ocarina), but any connections you have made with the people of Termina, any money you haven't stashed in the bank, and even any puzzles in dungeons that you've completed will all vanish any time you restart the cycle. This lends the game a sense of forward momentum, as you're always hurrying to get things done in time. It can also be frustrating, as certain events only happen at certain times, sometimes even on only certain days. In time, though, you learn the rhythm of life in Termina, and you start to figure out how to help people, even if your work is destroyed at the end of your playtime.  
The reason for helping people is simple: they give you masks. These masks help you help others, which nets you even more masks. Seperate from these are 3 different masks that allow you to inhabit the body of other species to use their special powers. You usually get a new mask right before one of the 4 major temples, with the puzzles inside often focusing mostly on use of the masks' powers. The dungeons aren't as memorable as the ones in Ocarina of Time, though they do hold their own special charms (especially the Stone Tower Temple) and there's nothing approaching the frustrations of the Water Temple.  
Ultimately though, Majora's Mask isn't about the temples. Sacriligious though it may be, the game instead focuses on yoru impact on the gameworld, and how that impact is erased on a regular basis. There's very little sense of progress in the game, which only makes it more enriching when you do help someone. There are few experiences on the N64 that can match the infamous Anju and Kafei quest, which has you helping numerous people over all 3 days of the game, only to have you reset everything just as you finally get everything to work. On a basic level it's an example of the game defeating the player, and it's a unique experience that hasn't seen an equal since. 

Other reviews for The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask (Collector's Edition) (Nintendo 64)

This edit will also create new pages on Giant Bomb for:

Beware, you are proposing to add brand new pages to the wiki along with your edits. Make sure this is what you intended. This will likely increase the time it takes for your changes to go live.

Comment and Save

Until you earn 1000 points all your submissions need to be vetted by other Giant Bomb users. This process takes no more than a few hours and we'll send you an email once approved.