Majora’s Mask is the textbook definition of unique. Sure, it looks like Ocarina of Time, but that’s not the point. And I’m going to go out on a limb here with this next statement. You ready?
Majora’s Mask is, hands down, the most innovative Legend of Zelda game in the entire franchise. Phew. Everyone still with me?
I made sure to phrase that statement carefully. I didn’t say that it was the best game nor did I say that it was my favorite installment. No. I said that it was the most innovative Zelda game.
Innovative. It’s a vague word, but here’s what I’m getting at: Majora’s Mask came into existence at a very crucial time for the Zelda franchise: Ocarina of Time had just been released, and little did they know at the time that it would go down in history as the most critically acclaimed game ever. That, my friends, was a hard act to follow. The next Zelda game would have to be even bigger, even better than Ocarina of Time. Or, it seems, it just had to be different.
Even with the familiar look that Majora’s Mask bears, the inner workings couldn’t be more opposite to the usual. Rather than collecting 7 sacred whatevers, your typical adventure shifted to something… darker.
As I mentioned, this game has a looming feeling of dread hanging in the air. I can’t take two steps without looking down at the time meter. Everything is so urgent. It’s is such a different feel from that of Ocarina of Time. But somehow, even with the eternal discomfort, Majora’s Mask has a ton of side quests.
Surprisingly, the side quests are the highlight of the game. Rather than completing the main story, you feel compelled to collect all the masks, gather all of the Stray Fairies. Even with the moon falling overhead, I hurry from place to place, filling my pockets with masks.
That, I think, is why it’s innovative. It takes something so familiar and practically poisons it. Majora’s Mask is a sick twist on the comfortable. Yet, I’m still playing it. I still find myself glancing at the bottom of the screen, expecting the time meter to disappear. I feel like I’m playing Ocarina of Time, but then I remember. And I get antsy, unnerved. But I keep playing. Why?
The inexplicable reason why I keep playing is why I revere Majora’s Mask. Rather than the mood being straight-forward, I was tricked into a different mindset. I fell into Termina, and everything looked great. It wasn’t Hyrule, but it looked pleasant enough. Then, Skull Kid decided to be a jerk. Termina is a place that I want to save. Even though it’s not Hyrule, it reminds me of Hyrule. The people, the music, the everything. The only way to save that is by dealing with the FLIPPIN’ time meter.
Just wait till I get my hands on that mask, Skull Kid. Just you wait.