Although questionable in its arrangement of content, Majora's Mask delivers improved gameplay in a surrealist universe.
Dyrvom wrote this review on .
The game opens with Link pursuing a lost friend, perhaps Navi, in the Lost Woods. Very soon the stage is set as cut off from the land of Hyrule and perhaps even from that dimensional plane of existence. Much of your adventure will take place based out of Clock Town (guess what its centerpiece is). Clock Town and a few other civilized portions of the world have populations working on predetermined schedules for the game's three-day increments of time passage. A great deal of ferrying and minigaming sidequests unfold from this dynamic, most of which are trackable through a key item, the Notebook, which is acquired early on. The four cardinal directions divide up the questing portion of the game.
Indeed, there are only four dungeons comprising the core of the game's perpetually repeating timeline. To the credit of its value, Majora's Mask will take the average player as long to reach its first boss as it took many to reach the third in Ocarina of Time. The myriad of minigames peppering the game's landscape are perfectly well put together, but the dearth of true boss battles and memorable turning points do subtract from the attempt to build an epic sensation over the curse of the game's dozens of hours of gameplay. Still, the nature of the cyclical three-day play period does lend itself to a very dramatic, even dreamlike conclusion, which I will do my best not to spoil.
The art style of Ocarina of Time is enhanced by the optimum application of the Expansion Pak's abilities. Nearly every model in the game is recycled from Ocarina, and often the exchange of personalities between characters from that universe result in situational comedy, such as in the potion shop encountered early on run by the now rather accident prone Twinrova. The transformation masks and the abilities associated with them have a bit more flare than Link's normal moves. The game also cuts down on negative space, filling more of the environment with substance than Ocarina. The surrealist rather than medieval art style throughout the dungeons is at times subtle and at times over the top, but often seems more appropriate for a game world rife with random treasure-laden holes and magic beans.
A largely new soundtrack with occasional potently eerie allusions to Ocarina reinforces the feeling of distance from Hyrule imposed by the rest of the game. The role of the Ocarina isn't really diminished considering its necessity in saving and resetting the game's clock. Sound effects have been added and augmented for the transformations and newly important characters, and for the Zoran band that plays a crucial role in the game. Some additional innovation in the music department might have been too much to expect after Ocarina, although the voice samples at least are showing their age.
The mask transformations and the powers granted by the less extraordinary masks play into the game anywhere from helping attain a piece of heart on one occasion to playing a central role throughout a quarter of the main adventure. The underwater movement and combat provided by the Zora mask, the aerial and water surface acrobatics of the Deku Scrub mask, and the high-speed juggernaut that is the Goron mask all have distinct feels about them. There's even a fourth transformation available in boss battles for those who attain every other mask in the game. Different forms have different restrictions on which items they can utilize, and overall the system seems like the only way Ocarina's gameplay could have been extended any further without breaking its genre identity.
The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask is an awesome game. Some disappointment can be justified in its relatively low hard-core dungeon content, but its supplement of mini-dungeons and sidequests actually outshines Ocarina in the sense of variety. The dungeons and boss battles that are in the game are up to par with the past, as is the sum of Majora's Mask's features.