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The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask

Developer: Nintendo | Publisher: Nintendo
Players: 1 Player Game | Release Date: 10/25/00 | Genre: Action/RPG

When I first started hearing about The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, I wasn't sure if I wanted to pick it up or not. Sure I loved Ocarina of Time, but Majora's Mask was certainly going to emphasize the use of...masks. I wasn't sure how well this concept could be utilized in a video game, and as a member of the Zelda series, MM had a lot to live up to. After a bit of consideration I decided I would preorder my copy of the game, and when I got it, I realized how foolish I was to ever doubt the game in the first place.

The game runs on the same engine as Ocarina of Time, so the controls feel very natural to anyone who has played Link's first N64 adventure. You can still assign different weapons to the C buttons, and Z-targeting makes it's return as well. The controls are fairly responsive, so Link won't go out of control with every tug on the analog stick or every push of a button. The camera can still be moved around Link, but it does still have a few problems. Nothing too major, but it can be frustrating during combat. At times, especially while Z-targeting, the enemy will move around Link and the camera will only follow it so far. This makes it difficult to keep an eye on the enemy and leaves you wide open for cheap shots from unseen adversaries. Please keep in mind that this is only a minor flaw, as it does not happen often enough to make it a serious drawback.

The main goal of the game is to get Majora's Mask back from Skull Kid. The mask holds mysterious powers and takes control over whoever wears it. Along the way Link can collect many masks. Some of which have little purpose at all, and others that are absolutely necessary to finish the game.

The main three include a Deku Scrub mask, a Goron mask, and a Zora mask. These three masks allow Link to transform into these creatures and he also gains their abilities. Gaining all the masks is no easy task. Some can be gained in a very short period of time, while others may take the entire three days to get. Three days? Yep, in Majora's Mask you have three days and three nights before the moon crashes into the world. Each day lasts for about twenty minutes or so and the game will end if dawn of the fourth day arrives. Don't worry, Link can play the song of time on his ocarina and go back to dawn of the first day at any time you like, hence allowing the game to continue.

Visually this game has definitely got it going on. The environments look awesome, and some of the monsters are totally cool. Expect everything that was Ocarina of Time only slightly updated. Link looks extra cool, and also has some new moves when it comes to jumping. Although it is still just a matter of running off the edge of a platform, Link now performs these jumps in a variety of acrobatic assaults. Sometimes he jumps in the standard fashion, while other times he'll do flips. This may seem insignificant, but it looks really good and actually helps keep platform jumping from becoming a chore.

Majora's Mask also does well in the sound department. There are plenty of recognizable tunes in the game and also some new ones that are entertaining, but do not bore you to death by repeating the same bars over and over again.

One of the biggest improvements over Ocarina in this area, is that your fairy friend does not sit there and yell, "Hey, Hey. Look, Listen, HEY!" every ten seconds like Navi did in the first N64 Zelda installment. Also, the fact that you're flying buddy was once friends with the Skull Kid allows for some very interesting dialogue.

While most of the game is awesome, it is not without it's flaws. There is one glaring flaw that sticks out far more than any other, and that is the games save system. I would have given this game a perfect 10 if not for this annoying feature. You cannot save whenever you please, at least not without some serious consequences. Whenever you play the song of time to return to the first day you must save your game. This does not seem like a big deal at first, but let me tell you, you not only lose all your bombs and arrows, but you can lose many important items that must be gained over and over throughout the adventure. To make matters worse, if you're in a dungeon and time is about to run out, you have no choice but to return to dawn of the first day. The bad news is everything you've accomplished in the dungeon must be redone. This is more than a bit frustrating, in fact, you will probably find yourself throwing your controller in a blind rage after playing the same dungeon for the fifth time only to have to restart once more. But don't dismiss the game on this morbid merit, some people actually LIKE this save system. They say it adds to the intensity and sense of foreboding doom. That it does, but whether this is good or bad is up to personal preference.

The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask is a very unique gaming experience. While it may not LOOK much different than Ocarina, the concept of the game really takes the series in a new direction. The story is fresh and your goal now is to collect masks, the tired 'Save the Princess' theme is sitting this one out. If you enjoy games at all, you owe it to yourself to give this one a shot. Nintendo has proven once again that they still make the best games around.

By Ryan Schaefer - 08/15/99
ESRB Details: Animated Violence
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