How do you continue the perfect game? The developers at Nintendo were faced with this problem in 1998. With The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, they had created a title that was more than just a masterpiece of its time: it shaped the action adventure so much that its effects can be felt to this day and changed together with Super Mario 64 the idea of what a 3D video game can be.
Table of Contents
- page 1Retro special for The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, Part 1: History, storyline, atmosphere, gameplay, dungeons and masks
- 1.1One year for three days
- 1.2Through the Rabbit Hole
- 1.3Mourning in Termina
- 1.4Heroic masquerade
- Page 2Retro special for The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, Part 2: Bosses, time travel, side quests, shortcomings, conclusion and opinion
- 2.1Forward to the past
- 2.2Please wait
- 2.3Unique until today
- Page 3Image gallery for "Zelda: Majora's Mask – Retro look back at the N64 classic …
So what to do? The easiest way would have been to simply take the exact same concept as Ocarina of Time and thus deliver another, certainly very good, but also somewhat uninspired adventure. The developers did not want that, especially Zelda inventors Shigeru Miyamoto and Eiji Aonuma, who is now in charge of all Zelda developments, but was allowed to sit on the director's chair for the first time with Yoshiaki Koizumi.
Likewise, it would not have made much sense to simply leave the expensive developed assets and the Ocarina of Time engine unused. The novelty factor had to be achieved in a playful manner and with regard to the atmosphere. It was said that it was Koizumi's dream that ultimately triggered what Majora's Mask was supposed to be: he dreamed that the moon was about to fall on our earth and how bad the prospect of certain death should be for people .
From this horror idea the parallel dimension termina grew and with it the idea of a repeating cycle. Instead of the three days in the game that Link experiences over and over again, seven days were initially planned. That would have exceeded the hardware capabilities of the N64, after all, calculating the daily routines of all the different NPCs made the console glow with just 72 virtual hours. So much so that Majora's Mask was one of the few games that required the optionally available expansion pack for the N64, which increased the console's RAM from 4 to 8 MB.
One year for three days
Source: PC Games
A cycle lasting several days, a world on the edge of the abyss: Aonuma and Koizumi approached Miyamoto with these ideas soon after Ocarina of Time was completed. He liked the concept, but also saw the unusual path as a risk. So he expressed a condition to ensure that the game, which was still nameless at the time, would not become a financial disaster: it should be created within just one year. A noble goal, but the recourse to existing resources and an extremely well-coordinated and competent team ensured that this deadline was actually only slightly exceeded.
In November 1998 Ocarina of Time appeared in Japan, in April 2000 (and with us in November) Majora's Mask. Thankfully, the adventure, which was called Zelda Gaiden and Zelda: Mask of Mujula during development, was anything but a quick shot and is rightly still considered one of the most unusual and best Zelda adventures ever – precisely because it does so much differently than Ocarina of time. Nintendo had more than answered the question of how to make the sequel to the best game ever.
Source: PC Games
But does the adventure still hold today? We dug out the N64 and dusted it off to get to the bottom of this question. At this point, we deliberately leave out the remake for the Nintendo 3DS, which improved numerous aspects of the game – but it also came onto the market 15 years later and on significantly stronger hardware.
In any case, the story has lost none of its charm: In the search for his lost fairy friend Navi, Link is attacked in a dark forest by the mysterious horror kid and robbed of his horse Epona and the Ocarina of time. After a short chase and a fall through a tunnel that apparently hovers between space and time, he finds himself in the parallel world of Termina, which threatens the aforementioned fate: the end of every life due to the impact of the moon, which stands with a diabolical face in the sky Three days to go.
After a brief interlude, Link receives his ocarina again and uses it to travel back in time and relive the three days again and again to find a way to put an end to the horror kid once and for all – him and the devilish one Creature called Majora's mask that lingers on his face …
Source: PC Games
Zelda has never been as dark as in Majora's Mask. We are not only talking about the depressing basic premise, but also about how terribly realistic the residents of Terminal are dealing with this fate. Some give up, others desperately try to fight the inevitable evil; others completely ignore it and pretend that everything is as usual.
But even outside of this big story, Majora's Mask tells stories full of sadness. We think of the Zora warrior Mikau, whom we see dying after a hopeless fight and whose grave we have to dig by hand; to the girl Pamela, whose father seeks her life in undead form (although we can happily help dear dad); and of course the prevented love between the Anju and Kafei couple in the face of certain death. Really hard tobacco!
Source: PC Games
This melancholy, which is unique in Zelda history, is full of fates, which do not always find a happy ending, with the typical bizarre humor and the crazy characters that have been known since Link's Awakening at the latest. This is how the slightly creepy tights Tingle in Majora's Mask makes its first appearance! He's by no means the weirdest thing in Majora's Mask, alongside creatures living in toilets who crave paper, crazy dancers worshiping the moon, giant turtles chugging through the ocean, and much, much more crazy moments and NPCs. And that means something! The majora mix is absolutely unique and the well-known charm of the series is never neglected, despite everything that makes the title different.
Particularly exciting: A majority of the characters are already known from other roles in Ocarina of Time. This fact is explained by the parallel dimension, the real reason behind it can be found in development resources that could be saved as a result. In practice, this mishmash ensures that Majoras Mask feels even more mysterious and interesting than it already is.
Source: PC Games
Majora's Mask was also playful in many ways at that time in a playful way. Sure, the takeover of Ocarina-of-Time-Assets did not come out of the blue, and so the upper world, dungeons, various (and numerous long-established) items, small keys, big keys and many, many other aspects awaited us again knew. However, the quality of these proven elements is extremely high – the (unfortunately only) four main dungeons in the game are among the most complex and best that the Zelda series has ever seen.
Who could ever forget the moment after about half of the final dungeon called Felsenturm Tempel, when we suddenly have to turn it upside down and have to explore it in its entirety upside down? There are also many other areas away from the actual dungeons, which are also almost temple-like, such as the two spider houses that can be explored optionally, the bottom of the fountain in Ikana Canyon and of course the four mini-labyrinths shortly before the final confrontation with Majora.
Source: PC Games
In addition, innovation was already practiced insofar as all items apart from the bow and the four different types of arrows are hidden away from the temples. Thus, many puzzles are quasi shifted to the upper world and they are significantly more important than was the case in Ocarina der Time or in A Link to the Past.
Nevertheless, in addition to all these detailed innovations, there are three things that make Majora's Mask so unique in a playful way. First, these are the masks. In Ocarina of Time only necessary for a trivial side quest, this time almost everything revolves around her! There are 24 pieces, some of them are very well hidden and while some are only used for individual heart parts or the like, they have other practical uses. For example, the rabbit ears let us run much faster, the Ka-Bumm mask is invaluable if we don't have bombs with us, and the rock mask makes us invisible to most characters and enemies.