The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask - Review

Something's missing.

By: Jake Alley

Review Breakdown
   Battle System 5
   Interface 5
   Music/Sound 6
   Originality 7
   Plot 3
   Localization 6
   Replay Value 6
   Visuals 5
   Difficulty Medium
   Time to Complete

10-40 hours


Title Screen

   Normally, the release of a new Zelda game draws legions of fans, eager to see the classic elements of the series blended with new tools, a new engine, and in most cases, a new console. This is not the case with The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask however. Released not too long after Ocarina of Time, and using the same engine, Majora's Mask is not quite as new and exciting as its predessessors.

   Majora's Mask is somewhat dwarfed by the earlier games in other ways as well. Such series staples as the Triforce, Master Sword, Ganon, and even the princess from whom the series takes its name are nowhere to be found past the intro. Instead, the main story involves a new enemy planning to destroy the world, with no surprises down the line. The scope of the game is smaller as well, featuring only four dungeons, half as many as the average game. Practically all the tools found in the game are also in Ocarina of Time, with fewer tools total, and the new additions are rather lackluster and fail to yield new types of puzzles.

Dodongo dislikes smoke.
Do you like fire?  

   This is not to say that Majora's Mask is free from innovation or fun however. Over the course of the game, twenty-four masks can be obtained, each of which bestows a strange, although sometimes mundane power. Also, the passage of time is quite important. From the beginning of the game, seventy-two in-game hours elapse before the apocalyptic destruction of the world. Although it is possible to jump back in time to the beginning, taking along all important items, and the records of defeating major bosses, this leaves only three hours of real time to accomplish any given task. Additionally, many of the games side quests may only be done at particular points in time. Most noteworthy are those involving interaction with the various NPCs in the game, many of whom follow elaborate schedules.

   While the time system makes for some unique gameplay experiences, the masks leave more to be desired. Three masks will transform Link into a member of another race, yielding new traits and abilities, but the rest are fairly dull. Most masks have no purpose other than solving a single puzzle. The same goes for many songs, which function just as they did in Ocarina of Time. In fact, while all the dungeons are cleverly designed, the entire game can be played with the mentality that any given object will be highly useful for an hour after finding it, and then proceed to collect dust in your inventory for the remainder of the game.

Link, the only Zora with a kilt.  

   Aside from these features, Majora's Mask seems like little more than more of Ocarina of Time. Graphically, it's virtually identical, despite requiring the N64's RAM expansion pack. Even the various characters in the game are the same as those found in the last game, despite being found in a different, smaller world. What few original graphics the game features are found mostly in the bosses, all of which feature a unique style, reminiscent of Aztec art. While these are well crafted, they clash somewhat with the more traditional characters and objects.

   Musically, Majora's Mask is rather immemorable. Nearly all tracks just fade into the background. The one exception to this is the classic Zelda theme, which is played on the overworld. This is not to say however that the sound as a whole is inferior to the Ocarina of Time. The annoying proddings of your fairy companion have been replaced with a subdued bell sound.

Spiked and spinning.
As a Goron you can roll around killing stuff. It's loads of fun.  

   While the world is possibly the smallest ever to grace the Zelda series, and it contains only four main dungeons, Majora's Mask is riddled with subquests. Nearly one hundred minor tasks, unimportant to the plot are scattered through the game. Some yield better stats, others new masks, and several yield little more than a sense of satisfaction. Collecting all these drasticly adds to the total play time, but honestly the great scavenger hunt has no real reward beyond a sense of satisfaction.

All in all, Majora's Mask has the same feel as the rest of the series, but fails to capture that special charm they offer. Still, while it may not be breathtaking, it's still a solid, fun game.

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