Thursday, 26 February 2015

Why I love Majora's Mask



When I got my 3DS, it was purely for Ocarina Of Time.  I have good memories of having a friend's N64 and OoT.  I played that game so much over the weekend that my eyes couldn't focus on things further than 10m away for a couple of days.

I'll admit, I was a little worried but they got back into shape soon enough.

Later I had the chance to played Majora's Mask and even though it was obvious that the game used recycled models quite heavily, I came to enjoy it even more than OoT.  Which, by looking at opinions on the internet seem to be in the minority.



Now that I am playing through MM on the 3DS, I thought I would share some reasons why I prefer MM to OoT.



OoT is a larger world than MM and I'll admit that, however at the end of my recently finished OoT, I thought to myself 
'When I played this before, I thought there were more helping citizens quests' 
Really OoT doesn't have that much in the way of quests for the folks.  It is also rather obvious what to do and where to go.  This I can understand as it in 1998, it was probably one of the early games to have such a large 3d world to explore.


What I love about Majora's Mask is, even though it's smaller, there feels like there is plenty to do.  Almost all the people in Termina have some issue that needs to be resolved and few of them are necessary.  Many of the items make the game's later stages a tad easier by providing hearts/masks that give skills, but you can get through the main game dungeons without them.

Helping Citizens and Timed Puzzles
On the subject of citizens, the puzzles to solve their problems are excellent.  I had heaps of fun just following a certain person for the whole three days, which as a kid, I felt was needed.  Trying to work out who was doing what was needed.  Especially that postman and the Anju/Kafei quest.  You see, as opposed to OoT's dungeons puzzles which gave you a room and blocks to move or a point to reach, that provided a key, the timed puzzles of Clock Town required you to read the links between people in the town and take leaps of faith.  For example, the ghost in the inn's toilet requires some paper, but the only paper you can generally get is the title deed for certain areas.  It made you think a little bit abstractly.

The world feel.
You have Termina field that leads to the different regions and each region has a little mini section within.  The swamp and the mountains have not only the dungeon, but a small external city and extra area.  For example, the mountains have the mountains, the dungeon area as well as the Goron city.  This is kind of similar to OoT, but I feel it was a little better executed in MM.

The Masks
Oh how I loved the masks.  The mask swapping thing OoT was a nice little distraction, but they rarely did anything for you.  MM has some of the same masks, but they actually affect Link. The Bunny hood makes him run faster.  The bomb mask explodes.  However best of all, were the form changing masks.  Sure all of these could have been swapped with an item that gave Link a  new skill, but actually making Link change form, from a human, Deku Scrub, Goron, Zoran was brilliant.  It makes him actually feel different as the characters have different attacks, move differently and different weaknesses.  Plus when he puts the mask on, oh that scream, I bet it hurts and is totally weird.

The ever present threat of the moon.  
This is more apparent in the N64/Gamecube version than the 3DS due to the way the save works, but  only being able to save at the start of the 3 day cycle and losing all your items because of that put on some sense of urgency to what you want to do.  Decide you want to crack that dungeon?  Better get cracking first thing on the first day!  Nothing worse than being right near the end and not being able to finish because you run out of time.  Normally I really hate time limits, but MM manages to provide enough tools to help you along the way, such as the reverse Song of Time, so even though you have the time limit and it does apply pressure, you never feel cheated and the game doesn't feel like it's cheap.  (I'm looking at you Robocop c64!)

Very little hand Holding.
Your first quest in MM is to get your ocarina back from the Skull Kid.  That's all you get told and then you're shoved out into Clock Town.  As a deku scrub.  

I loved this.  In the original, you can't even save as you need the ocarina for that.  Eventually you work out what is needed to be done and away you go, but I remember the first time I played the game, I was lost and direction-less.  Perhaps a bad thing?  I disagree.  In the case of MM, it hammers home the point that Link is in a new world and will have to rely on his (yours) wits to get by.  What to do?  Ask around town, oh, there's a magical fairy in town somewhere.  Well, I was affected by magic, and there is the first hint.  Even then, once you know where to go and that you need to find the Skull Kid, you still have to work out how to get to him.  Eventually through the way the game makes you learn the skills, you work it out and you get there.  


Then comes the confrontation with the urgency and the hurdle the 3 day limit imposes.  After you find the Skull Kid and recover your ocarina, the moon is about to crush Termina and there is little you can do.  You can't fight the Skull Kid, the time limit is running down, the sky is red and the music is sounding incredibly ominous.  You have but one choice, and that is to escape back to the first day and try and work out how to get the power to defeat the Skull Kid and stop that moon.

This sequence kind of shows how small Link really is in the world.  You feel rather defenceless and useless at the start, which makes grabbing those masks, solving those dungeon challenges and helping the people all the more rewarding.

In the end, I think the atmosphere contained within MM is a portrayed a lot better than OoT.  I love the feel, the fact that it's similar, but different at the same time and the time challenges.  I also love some of the theories that have popped up over the years to explain what is going on in MM and how is it possible within the Zelda timeline.  I recommend watching Game Theory's Majoras Mask video as a bit of food for thought.  As he says at the end, it's just a theory, but it is a well thought out idea and just as valid as any other theory since the only one who can confirm would be Nintendo.  Even then, I'd doubt it, because, well, shoe-horning and all. (know what I'm saying Transformers 'Aligned').

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