The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask
Description official descriptions
After having fulfilled Princess Zelda's request and saved the land of Hyrule from grave danger, Link departs on his horse Epona. In the Lost Woods he is ambushed by Skull Kid, an imp who dons a mysterious mask, accompanied by the fairies Tael and Tatl. Skull Kid turns Link into a small plant-like creature known as Deku Scrub and takes away his horse and his magical ocarina. Shortly afterward Tatl joins Link and agrees to help him revert to his native form. A meeting with a wandering mask salesman reveals that the Skull Kid is wearing Majora's Mask, an ancient item used in hexing rituals, which calls forth a menacing moon hovering over the land of Termina. Link has exactly three days to find a way to prevent this from happening.
Majora's Mask is a direct sequel to Ocarina of Time. It utilizes the same engine and visual style, and virtually identical interface. The game retains the traditional elements of Zelda games (dungeon exploration, sword fighting, bows, bombs, heart containers, etc.) as well as those introduced in its immediate predecessor, such as active blocking with a shield, various throwing items, and the usage of melodies played on the ocarina to solve puzzles. Compared to the previous Zelda games, this installment is more oriented towards interaction with NPCs and has a larger variety of items, optional quests, and mini-games.
Also unique to this entry is its time system. The game has an internal clock, with one hour roughly corresponding to one real-life minute. If the player hasn't completed all the objectives within three in-game days, the moon falls on Termina, annihilating everyone and ending the game. However, the player can return to the first day at any time by playing a song on the ocarina, saving all quest-related progress and inventory but losing other items such as ammunition or money (unless stored in a bank). It is also possible to learn melodies that slow the time passage significantly or advance the clock instantly to the next day. Some events happen only at specific times, and many characters follow their own schedules throughout the three days. Owl statues scattered across the land provide quick-save points and serve as teleporters between areas when discovered.
Collection and usage of masks play an important role in the game. Most of the twenty-four masks that can be found in the game are optional, and usually serve to solve side quests or enhance Link's abilities, allowing him, for example, to run faster or to become invisible. Transformation masks can be used to turn Link into a Deku Scrub, a Goron, or a Zora. Each of these forms has access to unique abilities, many of which are essential to the completion of the game. Among other skills, Deku Link can shoot bubbles from his mouth and float between flowers; Goron Link can operate heavy switches and walk through lava without taking damage, and weigh down heavy switches; Zora Link can swim fast and generate force fields.
- ゼルダの伝説 ムジュラの仮面 - Japanese spelling
- Boss Fight Books games
- Console Generation Exclusives: Nintendo 64
- Gameplay feature: Auto-mapping
- Gameplay feature: Day / Night cycle
- Gameplay feature: Drowning
- Gameplay feature: Fishing
- Gameplay feature: Horse riding
- Gameplay feature: Photography
- Gameplay feature: Transformation
- Games made into comics
- Games made into stage productions
- Games referenced in movies
- Legend of Zelda series
- Protagonist: Elf
- Theme: Time loop
- Theme: Time travel
Credits (Nintendo 64 version)
106 People (100 developers, 6 thanks) · View all
|Game System Directors|
|Cinema Scene Director|
|Memory Management Director|
|Map Data Managers|
|Cinema Scene Support|
|Boss Enemy Program|
|[ full credits ]|
Average score: 93% (based on 56 ratings)
Average score: 4.0 out of 5 (based on 138 ratings with 6 reviews)
I know you are probably sick of this, I know that I am most certainly sick of this and yet here we are again. Majora's Mask, one game that people can't stop bothering me about. Whenever I review this game a whole load of friends and people argue that I am wrong and when I replay it again I notice that they are right. It's an endless circle, but finally I believe we have broken free from it. All these years I didn't have the patience for Majora's Mask, playing only a part of it before shutting it off and reviewing it, unprofessional I know, but now that is remedied. I played Majora's Mask completely this time around and I must say that my experiences were much different from any I had in earlier attempts. To keep this final review interesting I'll take Majora as an example to counter some common criticism towards Zelda games as a whole. In the negative part of this review I'll however argue against some of the most common praise that Zelda games receive. Let's do it!
Zelda games are kiddy!
Zelda games tend to be all over the place when it comes to their content, but one thing that is almost always present are horror or mature elements. Majora's Mask may be the only one of these games to truly focus on creating an eerie atmosphere, but it's most certainly not the only one who has them. Even games as "kiddy" as Wind Waker tend to have scenes that genuinely stick out, such as a level set in a tomb or the reversed Triforces (similar to an anti-Christ cross). Majora's Mask really lets itself go though and the result is a game that actually managed to scare me without using jump-scares. The atmosphere can however also be used to support the story, without wishing to spoil anything, just go to Romani Ranch on the last night and speak with the two sisters, put the pieces together afterwards. Just the thought of what is happening over there on the final day is very depressing.
Zelda games have too much reading
If you really like action games, skip all the cut-scenes and are just generally disinterested in the context of what you are doing in a game, then there is little I can do to change that for you. If you are interested in context, but simply think Zelda games have too much of it, then that is also okay, but there are redeeming factors. Much of Majora's Mask is based around going on side-quests and exploring the various areas of the game. Talking with characters is still crucial, but there is also a lot you don't have to do if you don't want to and a lot you will experience without even having to approach characters. The best example is the main mechanic itself, the three-day cycle. As you re-experience the same days over and over again you see characters going through the cycle of their daily lives, this allows you learn about them through repeated observation. One time I was chilling around the Stock Pot Inn when I ran into the owner talking to her elderly grandmother. The grandmother refused to eat the food, making excuses I knew to be false and clearly showing signs of dementia while doing so. Thus I learned that the relation between these two characters is troubled and all I did was stand there.
Zelda games are too long
I know what these people are going through and I myself grow very tired of a game that passed the forty-hour mark too. I have however always found Zelda games in particular to be a very clear exception, as more and more gameplay elements are introduced as you play. Zelda games also generally show that your character grows stronger and stronger as gameplay progresses and sections in-between levels have characters reacting on this or at least show the world or story change due to the actions of the protagonist. It's a case of giving the player the proper incentive to keep playing, the game would indeed be boring if it was just 40-hours of swinging a sword around, but receiving a spell like the "elegy of emptiness" at the very end of the game suddenly opens up a whole lot of puzzle-opportunities and gives the player something new to master, without discarding all the content that came before.
Majora's Mask however succeeds on the other side of the spectrum. The game only features four dungeons and you can literally skip right to the final boss afterwards, no cheating involved. This might change the argument to "this game is too short", but that would be wrong. The game CAN be finished in ten hours, but why would you want to? As stated before there is a lot of content on the side and the game gives you plenty of reasons to see it all. The most prominent features are the masks in the game, you can obtain a total of 24 of them (not counting boss-masks) and only a handful of them are obtained naturally throughout the story. All these masks have special abilities that open up new stories to explore or give you an easier time in certain sections of the game (such as the Stone Mask making enemies ignore you). Since the characters are quite endearing it's also very hard to just leave them to their fate and even if everything has to be reversed again at the end of the day, it's still worth it to at least once fight off the monsters invading the ranch or helping Anju find her missing boyfriend before her wedding. For the explorers among us there is also plenty to see and discover in Termina, including various secrets that may lead to hidden items. All in all, Majora's Mask easily packs up to fifty hours of content and all of it enjoying in one way or another.
Puzzle-games are boring
It's worth remembering that The Legend of Zelda is more of an action/adventure type of game that has plenty of puzzle-elements. If you don't like puzzles, then this series contains plenty of opportunity to battle opponents instead. Fighting enemies, especially in the two Nintendo 64 games, is also made a lot more enjoyable than in most other fantasy games due to the challenge they pose. At the start of the game you only have three lives and enemies are quite weak, but later on enemies and their placement grow more and more challenging. Boss-fights especially require a combination of skill, equipment and attention. Even basic enemies however have at least some strategy to them: one of the first enemies you meet is a Skulltula spider that hangs from the ceiling, if you mindlessly hit it with sticks it will deflect everything and kill your ass in mere seconds. You need to know the enemies, their attacks, their patterns, and strike when they open up for you.
I won't claim puzzles are optional though and you will have to go through them almost as many times as you will have to fight. However, I felt that Majora's Mask was a fairly fair game and if you take your time for it (pro tip: use the song that slows the in-game clock) you can complete the puzzles by merely looking around the environment and using what items you have to solve the puzzle at hand. There are no puzzles that demand knowledge from you outside of what the game teaches you (Notpron...), there are no puzzles that go in against logic (Braid...) and there are no puzzles that ask you to figure out entire mazes worth of areas. The key goes in the door, the crate goes on the switch, the arrow goes into the enemy. That logic will get you very far in Zelda games as a whole.
Zelda games are all the same
At the surface this is a correct statement, but dig slightly deeper and you are already seeing faults in this reasoning. Yes, most Zelda games are about a guy in green clothes and pointy ears going on an adventure to save a princess from some evil entity, but each Zelda game messes around with the formula and mechanics a lot. If you were to show up at my doorstep and argue that A Link to the Past is the same as Twilight Princess, then I'd just shut the door right there and leave you standing in the rain. Zelda games are under constant criticism that they don't change enough, but at the same time change too much, critics simply don't know what to do with a series almost all of them enjoy.
A Link to the past revolutionized how we expect puzzles and action to function in games, Ocarina of Time brought that formula into 3D while Link's Awakening brought it to portable devices. Majora's Mask experiments with the timed narrative, Wind Waker has cell-shaded graphics, Twilight Princess uses cinematic action and other tricks to bring the series to the new youth. The list simply goes on and naming only one innovation per game (like I just did) is only scraping the top of the iceberg. Arguing that Zelda games are all the same or stagnating is a lazy argument, it shows that the reviewer merely looks at the summary featured on the game's box and never delves into the actual mechanics or just sits through the entire game with the sole reason of hating it.
Zelda games have very good stories
While Majora's Mask certainly stands out in this regard, due to its focus on atmosphere and characters, most other Zelda games are certainly not the pinnacle of fantasy writing. In fact, the fascinating races that go beyond elves, dwarves and hobbits is perhaps the only amazing part of the story.
Zelda games follow a very basic three-act structure. In the first act we get to know the hero and his surroundings, we experience his daily life and learn who his friends are. Though this is missing in this installment, it follows up from Ocarina of Time, so that game's opening (Kokiri Forest) serves as the first act for this game too. The second act starts directly after the hero's life is thrown into disarray, in this title when he learns that Majora is trying to destroy Termina. In the second act the hero has to obtain the means to fight the enemy, in this case the masks and whatever bonuses the player wants to bring with him. The third act is the finale and what happens with the protagonist after he has overcome his obstacles and reached his goal.
Zelda games follow this formula perfectly and rarely does something to rise above it, they are comfortable in this position and I don't blame them. Zelda games have an amazing atmosphere instead and the characters, while not amazing, are endearing in their simplicity.
The world in Zelda games look amazing
Many argue that Zelda games have brilliant world design and while they certainly have a degree of atmosphere to them, I still prefer individual areas. Locations such as the observatory or Stone Tower Temple simply resonate clever design & atmosphere and there is a huge variety of them. The world as a whole though, no matter what Zelda game we are talking about, is kind of hallow in comparison.
Zelda games always miss in this field in one of two ways, either the world is too small and simplistic or the world is too open and empty. Twilight Princess for example had a very large world, but walking around it was a chore. The world had not much to offer in terms of content: enemies were scattered scarcely around, a handful of collectibles here and there and done. The closest we have ever come to success was Hyrule Field from Ocarina of Time, but only because somebody was smart enough to put a major areas in the middle of it. You need interesting locations or scenery to fill up an open world, if you don't it will just be pointless space taking up room on the disc that could have been used to make a better game.
Termina on the other hand is too small and while it feels more populated and the space we have is well-used, it still makes you wonder why we bothered buying an Expansion Pack for this. The world is also kind of simple, in fact, why don't you just sing along: The beginning area is in a grassy field and from there we explore a forest-area, ice-area, water-area and desert-area. All we need is a volcano and the entire list is complete.
Transformation or dual-world gameplay
Ever since A Link to the Past, Zelda games have been very big on dual-world gameplay and transformations, but frankly I have never been very impressed. Having two worlds, each of which have a different set of rules, is the most simple way to design puzzles. A situation in which a door is locked, but if you press a button and go into a different reality where it isn't, then that is certainly a nice little puzzle, but not worth talking about in great lengths. The only way to make it really work is if the two worlds both have an interesting story behind them, as is the case in Twilight Princess, though that game makes more use of the second mechanic I named.
Transformations also fall in the same category: they both simplify puzzles and they are both more useful to the story than the gameplay. If you can transform into a guy that breaks rocks, then the rock blocking a path is not a puzzle, but just a progression/exploration-halter until you have the right tools. Majora's Mask boasts four transformations, but they aren't really well implemented. If you want to transform, you'll have to equip a mask in an item slot (which mounts it to a C-button). This might not seem like a problem, but for as long as you wear the mask, you'll have to make do with only two item slots. Switching between transformations should have been a button combination or something else that resolved the amount of menu-travelling you'll have to do.
Zelda games have lots of collectibles
Zelda games indeed have plenty of collectibles and I praised this fact earlier in this review. However, unlike Ocarina of Time, I couldn't force myself to get all of them. In almost every Zelda game there are dozens of mini-games that test your accuracy in trade for upgrades and heart pieces. It doesn't sound too bad, but they demand such insane skill that the game becomes frustrating. Majora's Mask has like four or five shooting galleries and it also features everybody's favorite "timed jumping from platform to platform with awkward camera positioning" game, which wins the prize for been the most uninspired "side-quest" ever.
Games likes the "bombchu bowling" may seem like clever novelties, but the stiff turning makes it nearly impossible, as are the shooting galleries that have you using the lacking aiming that came with the Nintendo 64's limitations. Also obnoxious are the fetch-quests where you need to find X-amount of spiders or something along those lines.It only serves to make the games longer and they don't even have the decency to mark objectives you already found.
The Bottom Line
I am sure there are some arguments and points of criticism I have not addressed here, but these are the few I wanted to go over. After numerous attempts I have finally formed my opinion on this game and that is... above-average.
The game has amazing atmosphere and story, the 3-day mechanic is well used and to me this game stands out as one of the creepier games out there. However, it also has quite a few flaws to stop it from been truly good. A loyal fan of the Zelda franchise will get the game they want from this and the haters can continue to hate as always.
Nintendo 64 · by Asinine (957) · 2012
This game is a very different approach to making a Zelda game from what I can tell. There is no Zelda, Ganondorf, Triforce, or Master Sword, just a little guy who was thrown into a parallel world in order to save it-- and I absolutely love it. Seeing a Zelda game that is a side-quest to another game with the same Link is always nice to see, especially with Majora's Mask.
You enter this new world with no explanation. All you know is that something terrible will happen in three days, which is hardly any time at all. This is where the Ocarina of Time comes in. You use it to reset the three days and go back to the first day, reverting a good portion of your progress. I have seen several people complain about this time mechanic, but I, personally, like it. It adds a different kind of immersion to this adventure. It makes you have to plan out what you want to do in a matter of three days (luckily, there are two songs that slow down and speed up time, which makes it easier to get things done). Without this mechanic, almost every sidequest would NOT work, since a bunch of them rely on going back, going forward, and experimentation.
The story is very good. To not spoil anything, you are practically thrown the responsibility as the world's savior. The main villain is this mysterious, terrifying, and powerful being. There is just a moon with a face that nobody really pays any mind to. The land is full of mystery, quests and areas will leave the player with questions that may or may not be answered. The best part about the story is how dark it is. Characters die, grieve, and have problems that are worsened by the threat of world destruction. It's a game that is worth exploring and looking around.
A big part of the game is the mask collection. By doing side quests, main quests, and just exploring, you will find masks to add to your collection. Getting a new mask is always satisfying. It's a reward when you do something right.
Most of the masks are useless. A lot of the time you use them once, sometimes they can be used to your advantage in combat/exploring, and sometimes they do pretty much nothing. I wish that some of the masks could at least evoke some reactions, or just be used in more ways, but no. I mean hey, it's at least satisfying having a full mask inventory!
Playing songs on the ocarina is really tedious. Every time you play, it plays an encore. This is especially annoying when you want to play the song that slows or speeds time, but you accidentally play the wrong one. It would be nice to have the option to skip or turn off the encore (especially on the Stone Tower).
The Bottom Line
Absolutely try it out. It's an adventure that is well worth your time. The story is really mysterious, which leaves room for speculation. This is a good, and surprisingly dark and creepy game.
Nintendo 64 · by sinisterhippo (23) · 2020
Although I never finished the game, I thought that the three day clock was one of the most innovative features of this or any game. It was fun trying to help the characters; I spent most of my time helping people. From what I saw of the dungeons, I thought they were challenging but not too difficult. There were many new enemies. The fighting system remained the same as "Ocarina of Time" which is a good thing.
Although some call it "darker", I didn't think it was. The minor characters would say the same thing after you returned to the first day. I hate that I never finished the game.
The Bottom Line
I could't describe the whole game to you since I never completed the game. However, of what I played, I thought it looked a lot like "Ocarina of Time" with a different story.
Nintendo 64 · by gamewarrior (4978) · 2004
|Genre Correction||Mark Picard||Jul 8th, 2013|
1001 Video Games
The N64 version of The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.
As with Ocarina of Time, Majora's Mask was meant to be released for the 64DD add-on, but eventually got crammed into cartridge format. Producer Shigeru Miyamoto originally wanted to re-purpose Ocarina of Time's dungeons into a new game and only gave director Eiji Aonuma a year to create the game. When Aonuma requested that he create a brand new game in the series instead, Miyamoto agreed, so long as the one year deadline remained, creating a rushed development cycle.
The song Ballad of the Wind Fish previously appeared in The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening.
Several persons, items and music from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time return in this game, in either the same or a different role.
References to the game
In the MTV animated series Undergrads, the game's black countdown screen (which greets you at the beginning of each dawn, provided you're not in a dungeon) was parodied with the words "72 HOURS UNTIL THE END OF FRESHMEN YEAR" in the season finale.
This game marks the first appearance of Tingle, the strange man who thinks he is a fairy.
- Electronic Gaming Monthly
- February 2006 (Issue #200) - #155 out of 200 of the "Greatest Games of Their Time"
- Game Informer
- August 2001 (Issue #100) - #68 in the Top 100 Games of All Time poll
Related Sites +
Wikipedia: The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask
article in the open encyclopedia
- MobyGames ID: 3550
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Contributors to this Entry
Game added by Kartanym.
Game added April 3rd, 2001. Last modified August 16th, 2023.