I had probably just beaten Ocarina of Time for about the umpteenth time when Nintendo announced a new Zelda game for the N64, to say the least I was ecstatic, it had been two years since I first played OoT. Again one night my dad gets home, golden box in hand, I was now 13 so I admired the box slightly longer, about 2.5 seconds this time. The game cartridge wasn’t just gold this time it was also holographic as well. So to get right to the reason for writing this is to tell you about the epiphany I had about why this game as a whole isn’t as bad as many people thought. The two main complaints about Majora’s Mask were that they didn’t like having to play the same three days over and over again and that the game focused too much on side quests, to find out why I disagree with that continue on reading.
Ok I finished Majora’s Mask, got all the masks and finished the notebook, and I felt that I had again accomplished something, I enjoyed that game. But then I began talking to my friends who had played it and all they could say was how stupid it was that you had to keep doing the 3 days over and over and how the side quests sucked, and of course me being a 13 year old boy at the time I had to agree out of peer pressure, so I hid my pleasure and agreed with them on how awful the game was and how I would never play it again (Oh how cool was I…). So for the past almost 8 years I have had that mentality that the game wasn’t that good. It wasn’t until I wrote about my first experience with OoT that I realized I had been living a lie with my feelings for MM, and the more I thought about it the more I saw the genius in what Nintendo had done with this game.
First of all think back on OoT, how many days passed while you played the game. It took what 5 -10 minutes for one full day to pass? And not to belittle OoT because it is an amazing game, but how different was it from one day to the next? No difference…they were exactly the same. So basically you were playing the same day over and over again (Ok well maybe the same 2 days if you count the days as a child and as an adult) Nothing ever changed, all the NPCs said the same thing every time you talked to them, they had great character design but after talking to most of them once they never said much else. Now think about MM, you have 3 distinct days, and each day is separated into morning and night sections for a total of 6 sections, and depending on which section you were in each NPC not only said different things, but were also in different places, doing different things, and as each section progressed their personality would change. Remember at the beginning everyone is excited because the moon festival is coming up but toward the end all the characters realize the impending doom that was the moon falling to destroy them all. and it made sense that the characters would say the same things each time you replayed each section, it was the same day to them. And because there was no way for you to talk to every person in one section, you had as many chances as you wanted to get to everyone. Now you have to admit that MM has one upped OoT in character development.
Now that’s not all that is genius about having only 3 days, once again think back to OoT, how many in-game days did you have to finish the game? Right, unlimited there was no sense of urgency to finish the game albeit your own personal desire to finish the game. So giving one day takes about 5-10 minutes and you played for how many hours? 35-40 maybe, How many in game days is that? Somewhere between 250 and 500 days! That’s over 1 year, and let me ask this question, what the f*ck what Ganondorf doing this whole time? By the time you become an adult he has royally f*cked up Hyrule, so he just sits in his unreachable tower playing the organ? (Ok I am really sorry for saying all that, don’t hate me, but it needed to be said to make my point with MM, remember I say it with all the love in the world)
Ok now to MM, you have 3 days, that’s it, no more, no less. You have to save the world in 3 days; the in game sense of urgency is through the roof, not to mention your own. If you don’t make it then it is on you, you messed up it’s your fault. Well thank goodness for being able to go back in time (even if it is very paradoxal with you being able to keep your weapons and your masks when you go back but not your rubies or any type of ammo, although you can put your rubies in the quantum bank and they will stay there when you go back, which all of this is pretty easy to look over in the long run) Back to the 3 days part, so now it’s not as tough, you have 3 days each to complete each dungeon, each side quest and anything else you want to do, which in there is still that sense of urgency to get it done, and if you mess some part of or forget to meet with someone at the right time then you have to start over, the game does not wait for you, and I love it, more weight is put on the actions of the gamer not the game. And do you remember seeing that imp with the mask causing havoc off in the distance every now and then? Yeah, you got that feeling that, oh ok the bad guy is actually out there doing something, not just sitting and waiting for you, he was waiting for you at a specific time, the very end of the 3 days.
Well you may say that still just doing the exact 3 days over and over, has anyone seen Groundhog Day? That movie was awesome because you got to see how Bill Murray was the only thing that ever changed and everything else only changed in relation to what he did. The same thing happens in MM everything is on a schedule and you are the only thing that can have an effect on it. And if you play the game right you should never have to do the same thing twice, unless of course you mess up. Many didn’t like the save feature in this game, they were used to the carefree save whenever you want feel lie it of OoT. In MM the only times you could save were if you warped back in time or if you came across one of those Owl Statues, which weren’t always around, you had to get it right the first time, a lot of the time there was no easy save, get it right or its back to square one, which gives that part of the game a neo-retro feel, how many NES games were there that if you messed up you were back at the beginning, that’s right, a lot. So you say that’s too hard to be putting into games anymore, well was MM really that hard? I mean come on they let you play the song of time backwards to slow time by half, if that doesn’t help you then just give up as a gamer.
One final thing about the 3 days, if you just wanted to play for a little bit each time you turned on the game then a 3 day in-game session was about perfect, get as much done as you could and then put it away for next time, I mean what’s wrong with starting at the beginning each time you start the game, you can easily reacclimate yourself to your surroundings because you have done it many times previously, I mean it worked for Super Mario Bros. I don’t think that game is considered a failure, do you?
(Hmm reminds me of something…
Too Many Side Quests…many consider this a bad thing, I have a different view. Frankly I have never played a game with too many side quests, you know why? Because they are optional! If you don’t like them just do the main quest. A good example is Assassins Creed, there were a horrendous amount of flags to collect, did I collect them all….no, because there was no reason to (unless of course you own a 360 and only play games to get achievements, by the way that is a disgrace to gamers, but that story is for another blog) anyway, when I did come across random flags it was kinda neat to see how many you had collected, but did I care? No. Did it add or take away from the story? No. Now in MM the side quests had a purpose, heart pieces, they give you more hearts, useful. Golden Skullatas, the more you got the better prize you got, and it helped that they were all confined to one dungeon. Collecting the fairies in the 4 dungeons got you valuable upgrades. Getting the 6 bottles was also fun and useful. And my favorite, the Mask quests, getting every mask was its own interesting unique task, which most of the time involved you learning someone’s story and helping them out within the length of one 3 day period. Every time I helped someone and got a mask I felt a sense of achievement, not like the 360 achievements that are mainly for completing random or mundane tasks that give you no personal sense of completion, no I felt like I had done something, something worthwhile. And out of it you usually got a pretty useful mask. And do you remember the last and greatest mask?
(When has link ever looked more bad ass?)
That covers the main side quests of the game, none of them were required, except for a few of the masks, but they were all worthwhile and added to the game, not one of them took away, and if you didn’t want to do them then you didn’t have to, so if you don’t care about them, don’t complain about them.
If you don’t see this game now in a different light, then I fear that you will never will understand. While MM did have its flaws, it is the type of gameplay that I would like to see more of, and I am sure that it can be improved upon. So I hope you will join me now and take a second look at this game in a new light. I can’t wait to experience it again.