The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask Review

Majora's Mask is a great game, but it isn't for everybody.

Originally slated to appear on Nintendo's ill-fated Nintendo 64 disk drive add-on, the 64DD, this aside to the main Legend of Zelda storyline eventually made the jump to the N64's standard cartridge format. The idea was to present a new adventure for Link that kept the same basic gameplay and engine elements as the last Zelda game, Ocarina of Time. As a result, Majora's Mask is about as different as you can possibly get without changing the core elements that make it a Zelda game.

Majora's Mask opens shortly after the completion of Ocarina of Time. Link, finally back to his youthful self after defeating Ganon, decides to leave his familiar surroundings in search of adventure. While riding through the forest, his ocarina and his horse are stolen by Skull Kid. Link, of course, gives chase and eventually discovers that Skull Kid, under the influence of Majora's Mask, is planning to cause the moon to crash into the planet's surface - more specifically, the village of Clock Town. Skull Kid's plan will come to fruition in three days. So it's up to Link to use those 72 hours to stop Skull Kid's evil plan - but it'll take a lot more than three days to succeed. That's where the Ocarina of Time comes in. Once you've retrieved it from Skull Kid, playing the song of time warps you back to the beginning of the three day period, allowing you to save your progress and, essentially, take as much time as you need to finish the game. Skipping back in time robs you of certain items, such as money, arrows, and bombs. Also, any progress you've made in any of the game's dungeons is reset, so you must complete a dungeon in one three-day period. Since one of the ocarina's songs slows the flow of time, there's never really too much time-related stress.

Since you'll be reliving the same 72 hours over and over again, you'll eventually know where each important inhabitant of Clock Town is at all times. Certain conversations happen only on certain days, at certain times. The most important item in the game, the notebook, keeps track of these people and their habits. Once you've obtained the book, it's easy to figure out when and where you need to be in order to trigger certain events. At the heart of the game's main quest lies four dungeons, which are just as puzzle-laden as the dungeons found in Ocarina of Time. But some of the puzzles are much tougher this time around, because your inventory gives you a lot more options. Majora's Mask is all about collecting different masks. Some masks have simple and specific effects, such as making you run faster or increasing your sense of smell. But the three most important masks actually transform you into different creatures. The different creatures have different abilities. For instance, the deku mask lets you burrow into flowers and launch out of them to reach higher platforms. The goron mask lets you pound the ground and execute a rolling attack. The zora mask lets you walk underwater. The masks are handled just like any other inventory item, and the constant switching of items during some situations makes dealing with the masks and other items become fairly tedious. Luckily, you can skip the transformation cinema that occurs each time you use one of the major masks.

Between the game's time-sensitive nature and the its heavy reliance on side quests and minigames, it's tough to really get involved in the game's storyline. Your fairy, which gives you hints from time to time, only really helps out with the main quest, usually pointing you to the next dungeon. It won't, however, detail the three or four things you may need to do before you can gain entry to that dungeon. So it's easy to spend a lot of time wandering around, polishing off relatively meaningless minigames and side adventures in hopes that one of them will at least point you in the right direction. However, even though it isn't as engaging as Ocarina of Time, the game is still quite good - the control, which is identical to that of Ocarina of Time, is amazing, and the dungeons and puzzles are extremely well thought out.

Graphically, the game has been bumped up a notch, largely thanks to the Expansion Pak, which is required for play. This allows for a greater variety in textures, though they still get a touch blurry up close. The sound and music throughout the game are mostly composed of the sound and music from Ocarina of Time - even some of the ocarina tunes are reused. What little new music there is, however, fits in perfectly with the rest of the game's already outstanding soundtrack.

Majora's Mask is a great game, but it isn't for everybody. Even though it uses the same engine that drove Ocarina of Time, and the gameplay is the same on the surface, the adventure is extremely different. Some will appreciate the game's differences, while others will find the game's focus on minigames and side quests tedious and slightly out of place. While the game definitely has a lot going for it, and in the end comes together in a pretty tight package, skeptics should definitely rent this one first.

The Good
N/A
The Bad
8.3
Great
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

Jeff Gerstmann has been professionally covering the video game industry since 1994.

Discussion

23 comments
matthova
matthova

Eh, Majora is actually more immersive than Ocarina of Time(THe Greatest game ever) but it's a bit much for its own good. The Dungeons were great but sadly the time limit thing was SOOO LAME. THE FINAL BOSS is SOO LAME. Its almost as if people complained about OoT or thought that Miyamoto should hav etaken another direction.

demonofearth
demonofearth

holy asdfghjkl O.o creepypasta wrote a story called BEN drowned. about a copy of this game that's haunted. but i like to play this game....

juiceair
juiceair

Every time there's a Zelda discussion, this comes up as a fan favorite with OOT, LTTP, and so on.  Sell me on why Majora's Mask can be considered the one of the greatest LoZ ever.  I'm not saying it's bad so don't think I'm trashing the game or anything, but I don't get the same WOW factor that I did with LTTP and OOT.  Keep it clean please. 

Amoniel
Amoniel

It has been 12 years since this game came out. It seems, even purely from the comment section here, that this game was very hit and miss with a lot of people. That's fine. But damn do I really want to see it on 3DS. It doesn't even have to have better graphics or anything. I just want it, again.

Paoksis
Paoksis

this game was more mature,dark and difficult than the fans expected....the first ocarina was better from a main story aspect,it felt more epic,yet majoras mask has these amazing details and "sidequests"that add to the flavour....overall 2 great games,both very innovate on its own,the first one being more accessible,thus the praise

Connor982450
Connor982450

MM was a great game, but I still think that OOT holds its place as the best game of all time

rushiosan
rushiosan

It was a total letdown to me. I got in on Virtual Consle because back in N64 era, I could not play it... and I didn't miss a thing, actually. The trial and error concept frustrated me in a way that only a few games did. It's really annoying when you can't save in the middle of an important event, when you're ALMOST completing a temple but then you reach the time limit, forcing you to start over and over. I know this is an innovative concept, but it had to come inside an ADVENTURE RPG, where exploration makes you waste a lot of hours?

 

I seriously would give this thing a 6, just because it carries the name "Zelda" on it...

epic542
epic542

Fail, it was boring and kind of a let down to the zelda games.

kurtbro900
kurtbro900

Jeff has later stated that he doesn't like this game at all. I find it amazing that he is able to put away his bias to write an objective review. You don't find that much in game criticism.

AkuScorn
AkuScorn

This game ties a knot in my stomach as I remember when my older brother got that game on Christmas. Perfectly wrapped, and as we saw the shiny golden cartridge and moving holographic Link we flipped out and plugged it in for amazement. I've gone back and played this game when I was older and I have to say it's still amazing. I was too young to say up and remember everything, so playing through the whole thing and finding stuff makes me a child again.

CyleM
CyleM

Jeff Gerstmann of Giantbomb.com is amazing! Heard them talking about it on the Bombcast and thought I would look up his original review.

ferna1234
ferna1234

This is probably the very best zelda game ever. It's twisted, it's dark, it's emotional in a non-cheesy way unlike the newest zeldas, and most of all its enormously INNOVATIVE.

PlzDieNow
PlzDieNow

@juiceairWell, Majora's Mask strays from a lot of classic elements that we usually find in a Zelda game. Some people find this refreshing and some people don't. I personally love the game for its creepy atmosphere. OOT was certainly packed with atmosphere and emotion, but Majora's Mask really takes it one step further. Also, I thought the time-mechanic was really interesting. If you have a problem with these two aspects you are naturally not going to enjoy the game as much as I did. I think these are the main dividing points when it comes to opinions on Majora's Mask.

100proofsoco
100proofsoco

@juiceair ALTTP all day. hands down. bar none. I stayed inside one Christmas vacation and played it all day every day. granted I was 13, but still..awesome.

IAMERROR01
IAMERROR01

@GTAgangster OR, maybe they're from people who just don't like it. You need to grow up and realize that everyone has their own opinion. I, for one, hate MM because it's just straight-up BORING.

So are you implying that if someone doesn't like MM. then they're not a "true gamer"?

adam1808
adam1808

 @Stealth_Knight_ I think you meant: "Thank god Jeff is back in the CBS building to exert his brilliance on all and sundry", don't worry I'm sure all we all understand your implicit meaning here.

IAMERROR01
IAMERROR01

@GTAgangster  No, what you're saying is NOT true. You're basically saying that the only reason someone would dislike MM is because he/she is a casual gamer who is incapable of playing it because of its difficulty. That's completely unfair to say, and disrespectful of other people's opinions. By your logic, everyone who dislikes MM is either immature, or terrible at games, which is completely untrue.

The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask More Info

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