Living in the Shadow of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

Published: September 30, 2009 By Windmage | Comments (0)

Ocarina of Time was truly a masterpiece, but what's beyond it? There must be another game that comes as close to if not surpassing the greatness of Ocarina of Time.  Today, I implore you to take a closer examination of a game living in the shadow of Ocarina of Time, The Legend of Zelda Majoras Mask.

Out of the thirteen Legend of Zelda games released, there is no doubt in most fans that The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is the greatest game of the series, if not the greatest game of all time.  Ocarina of Time was one of the most well received games of all time and still continues to be a popular game despite being around eleven years old.  However, living in the shadow of its sister sits The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, released on the Nintendo 64 in the year 2000.  While many, as mentioned before, hold Ocarina of Time above all the rest of the series, I personally place Majora’s Mask at the top.           

What places Majora’s Mask at the top of this list in my opinion is primarily its story. Searching for his fairy friend Navi in the Lost Woods of Hyrule, Link encounters the Skull Kid, who steals the Ocarina of Time and kidnaps Epona.  Link chases after the Skull Kid and finds himself falling through a pit.  Using the power of what we will soon learn is Majora’s Mask, the Skull Kid curses Link, trapping him in the body of a Deku Scrub.  While Skull Kid laughs at a distraught Link, he escapes but leaves behind one of his fairies, a female named Tatl.  Tatl blames Link for separating her from the Skull Kid and demands that they follow him.  From here, they enter the Clock Tower and encounter for the first time the Happy Mask Salesman, who explains to them the legend of Majora’s Mask.  He gives them three days to retrieve the mask and Link’s ocarina.  Outside of the Clock Tower, we are in Clock Town, located in the center of Termina.  The citizens are getting ready for the annual Carnival of Time, which is in three days.  Looking up at the sky, a menacing moon looms above the city, and we learn that there are rumors that it will fall in three days time.  With this, Link sets off to find his possession and solve the mystery of the Moon.           

The story of The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask is vastly different from previous installments of the Zelda franchise.  Most follow the formula of “save Princess Zelda, defeat Ganon/Ganondorf.”  Ganon is almost always the ultimate villain in the series, with most other main villains acting as his puppets; or in the case of Ganondorf, a human form.  However, in Majora’s Mask, Majora is its own entity, an embodiment of rage, spite and child-like recklessness and disregard.  As a mask, it needs a host and the Skull Kid was unfortunate and vulnerable enough as to become the host that Majora needed.  Majora opens up a darker side to the Legend of Zelda series.  As the three days go by, one watches the citizens live their lives, some of them torn to pieces by the Skull Kids antics and Majora’s power.  The clock constantly ticks and one gets closer and closer to an apocalypse.  Knowing that the world is almost certainly doomed no matter what, one can only regain three days on borrowed time.  These factors certainly make The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask the darkest game of the franchise.             

The Legend of Majora’s Mask is one of the most unique Zelda game to date.  This is also something, in my opinion, that make it the greatest game of the franchise.  As mentioned before, one has three days to complete the game; if you choose not to play the Song of Time, the moon will destroy Termina.   If you play the Song of Time, you go back to the start of the three day cycle with all progress made in temples (during that cycle) and the like undone.  So at the maximum, you have three days to complete a temple/dungeon.  This particular element of the game received mixed reviews among fans, but to me it gave a certain degree of difficulty that made playing the game much more fun and satisfying when one has to beat the clock.  This is the first Zelda game to feature its unique save system.  In Majora’s Mask, one can only save the game when going back in time, or at several Owl Statues. Once you save at an Owl Statue, the game is paused until you continue.  Because one cannot freely save the game at any moment, another degree of challenge is added to the game.  This feature too received mixed reviews from fans.  Again for me personally, I enjoyed the extra challenge.             

These are overall the reasons why I hold The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask in the top slot of “best Zelda game ever.”  However, Majora’s Mask lives in the shadow of Ocarina of Time.  I hold many theories to the reason for this.  One, I believe that Majora’s Mask is a victim of the year of its release, 2000.  This was towards the end of the Nintendo 64’s career.  Also despite the theme of finding all the masks available, the game was fairly short with just five main dungeons (Woodfall, Snowhead, Great Bay, Stone Tower and the Moon Dungeons), with the Moon dungeons being completely optional.  Granted, the game had many sidequests to keep one busy, it was lacking in game time.  I also think that the three day system and the save system turned people off to this game, which is a shame because these elements, I feel, brought something new and refreshing to the franchise.  Whatever the reasons, The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask is overshadowed by its sister, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, but there are those of us out there that believe Majora’s Mask to be far superior.


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