“Whether a parting be forever or merely a short time…that is up to you”
These are the words given to you by the Happy Mask Salesman upon leaving Link and setting out across Termina Field. His words seemed applicable as The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask had taken me about a decade to finish and I had set out to play through the game a second time.
Getting my copy of Majora’s Mask in the mail is one of my fondest childhood memories. I was able to persuade my mom into ordering a special bundle from nintendo.com( online ordering was still a novelty in 2000, living in the middle of nowhere) that came with the gold cartridge collector’s edition of the game, the soundtrack cd, player’s guide, and a year subscription to Nintendo Power. I hadn’t really played many Zelda games until Ocarina of Time came out on the N64(and is still my favorite Zelda game…not a real original opinion), so I was excited to play the follow-up which for a considerable amount of time was listed as Zelda: Gaiden in Nintendo Power. I remember playing Majora’s Mask and really enjoying the world and the storyline, but for reasons I don’t remember to this day I kinda just stopped playing about 2/3 of the way through. I picked up the game a several times over the next few years with the intention of completing it, but never did. I read several gaming magazines saying it was EVEN BETTER than Ocarina of Time which I couldn’t comprehend at the time, I just wasn’t in love with the seemingly tedious item and mask quests that relied on a specific day and time to be completed and had a difficult time finishing the game. It was about nine years later by the time I finally finished it. I gained a better appreciation of the game once I made my way through the Ikana Graveyard and Canyon on my way to the Stone Tower and eventually the moon itself. Over time, developing a deeper admiration for the game that a very large portion of the audience did not or could not love as much as its predecessor – Ocarina of Time.
I eventually got the re-release of Majora’s Mask for the 3DS a while ago and made a conscious effort to play through the game within the same week to see what my feelings of the game would be after 19 years…
In the 3DS version of the game there are changes from the N64. There are a lot of minor location changes such as Heart Pieces and Stray Fairies within the main 4 dungeons. Several of the masks are located in different locations. The Giant’s Mask for example, is not acquired until mid-way through the Stone Tower boss battle with TwinMold whereas it’s located in a large chest before you enter the boss room. This made it tricky when I would pull out my weathered Nintendo Power Official Player’s Guide for the game and the items simply weren’t there.
Traveling back and forth throughout the 3 days before the moon crashes into Clock Town and destroys everything in a central mechanic to the game, and the 3DS version has streamlined this a bit. In the N64 version, if I wanted to be somewhere at 10pm for example, I would play the Song of Double Time and warp to either the dawn or night of a given day. You would warp to 6pm(nighttime) and have to wait around until the clock hits 10pm. In the 3DS version however, you can travel by 1 hour increments so you can warp directly to 10pm without having to stand around waiting. This isn’t an enormous, game-changing thing, but it does save a lot of annoyance at the fact you’re sitting waiting for something to happen.
I really liked the fact they moved the location of the Clock Town Bank in the 3DS version to right behind the clock tower and owl statue, which serves as your fast travel points throughout the game. There are countless times where you will pull out your ocarina, Deku pipes, Goron drums, or Zora guitar(coolest instrument in ANY Zelda game, IMO) and play the Song of Soaring to fast travel to Clock Town solely to deposit all of your rupees in the bank as your item inventory will reset once you play the Song of Time and return to the dawn of the first day. Again, this isn’t something that warrants the long explanation but it’s one less inconvenience that I had a hard time liking about the game back in 2000.
The boss battles are still one of the most memorable parts of Majora’s Mask. The battle with Goht in Snowhead Temple taking place within a circular “track” where you must derail him with your spikes while rolling with your Goron Mask on, seems akin to chariots slamming into each other while racing in the Roman Colosseum. Your fight with TwinMold at the end of the twisting upside-down and then right side up Stone Tower was also memorable. The boss battle that turns into a giant(PUN!) wrestling match once you acquire and wear the appropriately named Giant Mask. In which Link, grabs the stunned TwinMold by the tail and swings it around like Mario fighting Bowser in Mario 64.
The music in the game is still probably my favorite from any Zelda game; from the intro – a sunny, baroque madrigal-esque passage before taking an ominous and foreboding turn, to the Astral Observatory theme – an absolutely enchanting and sublime melody which still brings out all sorts of warm, fuzzy nostalgic feelings after all these years. ( I have included a link below to listen)
In summary(finally), my admiration and respect for Majora’s Mask has grown deeper and more affectionate over the years with a better understanding of the game’s darker, more mature themes. It is equal parts beautiful and tragic, showing parallels between the story and our own lives. We go through our lives in a frantic state simply trying to accomplish our goals and ambitions because there is the constant feeling of impending doom, along with helplessness and loneliness; the sense of not having enough time for everything. I am beyond satisfied to have re-experienced this game. Majora’s Mask is a dark masterpiece that I did not or simply could not understand at the time.