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 free one of four giants, protectors of Termina who are Clock Town’s only hope in stopping the Moon. They must be summoned at the right moment by playing the Oath to Order, which Link learns after defeating the first boss. Thus, all the player has to do is complete each of the game’s four dungeons to summon the giants to hold up the moon and stop 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 whom 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 central area 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, the Moon can be seen menacingly in the sky above. Using the power of the dark mask, Skull Kid has turned the Moon into a terrible monster which will crash into Termina in seventy-two hours, precisely three days from the moment Link exits the clock tower.
After the first cycle of three days, Link gets the Ocarina of Time back from the Skull Kid. He remembers the Song of Time and plays it as soon as he picks it up. This magically resets the three day cycle, 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, recover Epona, and find a way to defeat Skull Kid and stop him 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, which 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) 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|
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 “Expansion 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.
Majora’s Mask 3D
After years of subtle hints, The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D was announced during a Nintendo Direct on November 5th, 2014. Majora’s Mask 3D is a massively overhauled version of theNintendo 64 cult classic The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask featuring not only significant visual upgrades but also gameplay and playability enhancements.
One of the most notable changes is the new design for the in-game clock. Gone is the elaborately ornamental clock of the original in favor of a very simplified time-bar showing the progress of time for the entire three-day span at once.
The current status indicator now also displays a symbol for the time of day along with the exact time as a digital clock.
The bottom screen serves as the main interface for menus, just like in Ocarina of Time 3D. The inventory supports drag-and-drop for assigning items to buttons and the side of the screen is lined with touch-enabled shortcuts to other sub-menus and default items such as the Pictobox or the Ocarina of Time (or equivalent instrument during a transformation).
Owl & Feather Statues
Playing the Song of Time and returning to the dawn of the first day no longer automatically saves the game. Saving is now handled exclusively via Feather Statues (called Quill Statues in the PAL version) and Owls Statues. Owls Statues still serve as warp points for fast travel, like in the original game. They also still double as save points, however their saves are now permanent, unlike the original where, once loaded, the save game made at an Owl Statue would be erased. New are Feather Statues that are placed all over Termina, enabling the same save functionality as the Owl Statues. These statues represent the only way to save in Majora’s Mask 3D.
Song of Double Time
In the original N64 version, the Song of Double Time, which Link can optionally learn by following the Scarecrow’s hints, allows him to skip ahead twelve hours into the future. Now, playing this song will allow players to skip ahead to any time in the future they like, in hourly increments. The three Song of Time variants are also displayed on the bottom screen’s song list from the moment Link gets the Ocarina back.
The functionality of this book, given to Link now by the Happy Mask Salesman instead of Jim the Bomber, has been greatly enhanced in Majora’s Mask 3D. The Bomber’s Notebook now can be displayed across both the top and bottom screen, showing the familiar schedule table with clearer visual language and new additions that make it easier to keep track of events. The schedule now informs players of the current status of any side quest they are currently partaking in, as well as offering detailed event and character descriptions. Most notably, however, is the new ability to set an alarm for Tatl to remind the player at a desired time of an upcoming event in the schedule. The Bombers themselves now also have become more useful as they give out hints about events or things to discover which they originally did not do, despite them saying they’re collecting info about the people in town.
Just like Ocarina of Time 3D, Sheikah Stones are found in the game world that the player can choose to consult for tips and hint videos with useful information about progressing in the quest to save Termina from its fate.
A completely new addition to this version of the game is the fan-favorite fishing mini-game, found in many other Zelda titles. Dedicated Fishing Holes can be found in Southern Swamp and The Great Bay. In these locations, Link is able to wear the Fierce Deity Mask freely but he is not allowed to leave with it.
Zora Link moves slower and has to use magic to dive-jump out of the water. This brings his ability usage in line with those of Goron Link in terms of their application and limitations. Goron Link’s roll is now controlled by pressing (A) once to initiate and then pressing it again to stop it, instead of just holding the button for the desired duration in the original version. The Goron Punch animation has also been sped-up.
Redesigned Boss Fights
All boss fights have been redone with new behavior patterns and elements in the fights themselves. This was to ensure players were able to become aware of the bosses actual weaknesses instead of just mindlessly whacking on them.
- Odolwa now is a more involved fight with different challenges during his phases.
- Goht now has a Majora’s Mask-eyeball on his back that can be hit with arrows or with the sword while he’s stunned.
- The fight against Gyorg has been altered with a completely different second phase. Players can now hurt Gyorg without being forced to stun him first.
- The Twinmold boss fight has been significantly revamped, allowing for more interactivity and cutting down on players either having to wait around for a long time or simply overpowering the boss.
- One of the fairies in Woodfall Temple is in a new location
- The Great Fairy rewards in Woodfall Temple and Snowhead Mountain have been switched.
- The bottle originally obtained from Dampe is now a Heart Piece.
- Koume now grants Link a bottle for completing the Swamp Tour after clearing Woodfall Temple.
- An additional seventh bottle can be obtained from Gorman on the Second Day.
- The Pictograph Box can take full-color photographs now that are saved on the SD card.
- Some characters in and outside of Clock Town appear in different locations.
- Previously scrapped Ocarina transformation icons from the N64 version are now used to display the relevant instrument when wearing a transformation mask.
- The game now offers three save slots in all versions. Originally, only the Japanese N64 version had three slots because that version did not have temporary Owl Statue saving which required dedicated memory in the Western releases with the Owl Statues.
New Nintendo 3DS
Playing the game on a New Nintendo 3DS enables support of the C-Stick for full 360° camera control, which was not possible in the original version. This feature is also supported for users with a Circle Pad Pro (XL) on a regular Nintendo 3DS model.
Alongside its announcement Satoru Iwata said that the development team was working to maintain the original version’s difficulty, while simultaneously “keeping the game accessible to anyone”. Eiji Aonuma has stated that the game began development almost immediately after the completion of Ocarina of Time 3D, giving the game a development cycle of more than three years.
In addition to standard physical and digital releases, a special edition containing a Majora’s Mask pin, steelbook, and double-sided poster is set to release exclusively in Europe and Australia. In North America, a Limited Edition featuring a copy of the game and a Skull Kid figurine will be released. Additionally, a special Majora’s Mask-themed New Nintendo 3DS XL will be available on the game’s release day in all regions. PAL regions and Japan will get a pre-installed copy of the game with the bundle while the North American version will just come with the game system and no copy of the game.
The new version of Majora’s Mask was generally received very positively with many praising the many improvements to the gameplay while some criticized a few of the changes such as the altered swimming mechanics. The game has sold 2.03 million copies worldwide as of March 31, 2015. Additionally, Nintendo of America announced in early March 2015, that Majora’s Mask 3D is the fastest selling handheld Zelda game ever with 515.000 copies sold in North America in its first month.