Majora's Mask Hands-On

As we fought our way through the game's first dungeon and found various masks, it was obvious that this Legend of Zelda is completely different from any other.

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The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask
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We got a chance to sit down for an entire day and play the US version of the Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask. As we fought our way through the game's first dungeon and found various masks, it was obvious to us that this Legend of Zelda was completely different from any other.

The game's opening intro shows a young Link riding through a forest on the back of his trusty steed Epona. This peaceful scene is abruptly interrupted when a masked villain suddenly attacks Link, turns him into one of the Deku nut creatures, and steals his ocarina. In his pursuit of the thief, he ends up in a different world, a world he learns will come to an end in three days.

The actual game begins with a stark title screen that simply reads, Dawn of the first day: 72 hours remain. From here, you start near a town where you have to complete typical Zelda-styled puzzles, such as take this item here or go to this store and talk to the shopkeeper. One of the major differences between the Ocarina of Time and this adventure is that there are 24 different masks that give Link different abilities. The Deku mask, for instance, not only lets Link shoot bubbles at enemies, but it also enables him to make large spinning flowers glide through the air.

In order to progress through the game, you need to have masks, which let you reach particular areas and accomplish certain tasks. While you are completing the required tasks, a clock, which shows how much time is left until the end of the world, is constantly ticking at the bottom of the screen. The rate at which the clock ticks is accelerated, so days in the game pass in a matter of hours. If you don't waste much time, sometime during day three you'll come to a battle where you meet up with the masked villain who stole your ocarina. After a brief battle, you win back your ocarina, but unfortunately, the process that will end the world is too far along to stop. The only answer for you is to use the ocarina to travel back in time, to the beginning of the game, to try to stop the events once again. Once you do, the story unfolds further, and you realize that you must gather more masks, many of which are hidden deep within dungeons where there are puzzles to solve, similar to those found in the Ocarina of Time.

One of the biggest differences between this Zelda adventure and any other Zelda is the constant sense of urgency. Even though you can go back in time, the 72-hour countdown is always ticking away. Previous Zelda games were all about exploration and adventure, but this Zelda is focused mostly on saving the world.

The game plays nearly identically to that of the first. Link has the same moves and weaponry that he had in the Ocarina of Time. The only real differences are the new abilities that Link gains through the power of the different masks.

Visually, the game doesn't look very different from the last Zelda. However, thanks to the expansion pak, the game can handle a lot more enemies on screen at the same time, which makes average battles more of a challenge. In addition, the ram pak allows you to see further out into the landscape, which is also more populated than the first game. The sound and music are also virtually identical to those of the first game.

The time we spent playing the game was extremely fun. Solving multiple-step puzzles by using various masks, in conjunction with one another, certainly added a new kind of gameplay element to what looks, on the surface, like the original game.

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