Now that The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask is available for 3DS players all around the world, we thought it was time to dive deeper into the game, exploring the phenomenon surrounding its birth along with its unique assemblage into the Zelda series.
The dawn of the millennium was a strange time. In terms of culture, the science fiction craze was thriving. People were inventing strange and aesthetically futuristic technology such as the iMac Flavors and the hybrid car. Music as we knew it had entered into a “cyber phase” with the rise of mainstream techno and electronica. Films such as The Matrix were selling out theaters and it seemed that everyone was very excited to explore “the future.” Along with this new wave of futuristic design, predictions of Y2k or “The Millennium Bug” began to arise and people anxiously feared the arrival of the new year.
In 1997, the mass suicide of the infamous science fiction religious group, Heaven’s Gate, became a dark symbol for this strange millenial era. For those who are not familiar, Heaven’s Gate was a software provider company employed by the military who in turn operated as a religious cult based on personal scientific belief. Together, Heaven’s Gate openly agreed to commit mass suicide in hopes of catching onto the tail of Halley’s Comet, so that they may reach their own “paradise.” Although the dawn of a new millennium was an incredible time for science fiction and creativity, this era was in turn contrasted with a sense of darkness and fear of the unknown. In this generation and new century, The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask and its “looming moon” was born.
Only months after this era of the new millennium, Nintendo produced one of the most surprising and best games of all time, The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask. Released only two years after The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Majora’s was shortly made famous for its completely innovative art style and unique cast of characters. Dubbed the “creepiest,” “darkest,” and “scariest,” Zelda games of all time, Majora’s Mask is most definitely the luminous “purple shade” of what makes the universe of Zelda, the multi-colored “paint palette” that it is today.
Placing a strong importance on the aspect of time, Link uses the famous ocarina to weave in and out of it. Events occur on a three-day schedule, which gives the game very strange and unique qualities, unlike any other game of its kind. On the third and final day, the notoriously frightening, looming moon plunges into Termina, killing all of its inhabitants. As the third and final day approaches, tremors begin to shake the ground as the moon gets closer and closer. The soundtrack speeds up and the day feels long and very depressing.
Characters scattered around Termina are also very aware of the doom that is soon to fall upon them. Citizens of Termina are almost entirely immune to Link’s presence and care little of his significance because they are too busy bustling about, trying to tie in any loose ends before the Apocalypse. This “end of the world” element introduced in Majora’s Mask seems strangely familiar to the fear felt during the turn of the millennium.
Who can forget the weird, apocalyptic commercials for Majora’s Mask? Revisit them here.
According to the Zelda Historia (home to the official Zelda timeline), after Link had defeated Ganondorf and saved Hyrule, Zelda sent Link back in time to his original child state. This split in the Zelda chronology produced three separate “Child Link” tales; first, Majora’s Mask, second, Twilight Princess and third, Four Swords Adventure.
Majora’s Mask begins with Link searching the Lost Woods for his dear friend, Navi. After a brief encounter with the mischievous Skull Kid, Link falls into a deep hole and wakes up in the world of Termina and has been turned into a Deku Shrub. The appearance of the Termina realm was a first for The Legend of Zelda series. Most characters introduced in this game are of an entirely different background and worldly structure, which is always an enormously big deal for Zelda fans around the world. Termina is not only an entirely different playing field, but the gods are different as well. Termina was not created by Din, Nayru and Farore, but is in fact the creation of the four giants seen at the game’s close.
Calling Majora’s Mask a “dark game” is a complete understatement. There are hidden undertones that may have seemed subtle in childhood, but as an adult, make for a wild and racy playthrough. Acquiring numerous amounts of conspiracy theories, accompanied by a number of tall tales, Majora’s creepy legacy has lengthened.
Many people have speculated that Link is in fact dead through out his time in Termina and in the early 2000s, an even stranger story began to circulate about a “possessed Majora’s Mask cartridge” on the internet. In this online blog post, the writer claimed that he had picked up a Majora’s Mask cartridge at a yard sale, and found out later that it was haunted by its original owner, Ben, whom was deceased. He goes on to explain that the game would glitch and that strange things outside of the game’s code would appear. The writer eventually ends the blog with “This fifth day will be my last day. I’m going to burn the cartridge then come back to destroy my laptop.” Although the strange blog post was later discredited and proven a farce, you can’t help but link the aura of Majora’s Mask with such fan inspirations riddled with dark tales and mysterious rumors.
What sets Majora’s Mask further apart from other Zelda games is its crazy cast of characters, each possessing their own unique traits and kooky personalities. The snicker of the Happy Mask Salesman at the game’s introduction still sends shivers down my spine. Although as creepy as he may be, the Happy Mask Salesman is undoubtedly a fundamental part to the story of Majora’s Mask. Having the Majora’s Mask stolen from him by Skull Kid, the Happy Mask Salesman pressures Link into getting it back to him, claiming that the mask possesses apocalyptic powers. With such powerful items at his disposal, one can’t help but wonder just how the Happy Mask Salesman acquired these masks, which is a story that has never been told. Rather than exploiting the Happy Mask Salesman with endless amounts of additional plot content, they kept him feeling ominous and they certainly kept him feeling creepy.
And who can forget oddball Tingle? With each visit to North Clock Town, I made sure to shoot Tingle down from his big red balloon, only to hear him make his notoriously strange buzzing-hum sound “UH-MMMM.” When I met him again in The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker, I was not surprised to find him locked up in a jail cell accused of stealing. Did I forget to mention how he ran a slave driving/map translating service in the middle of the Great Sea too? Always an oddball, that Tingle. Come to think of it, why was he strapped to that big red balloon?
Finally taking a long deserving break from the typical Ganondorf / Princess Zelda scenario, Majora’s Mask spends a majority of its adventures exploring other timelines and plots. With only four dungeons within the game’s arsenal, most of the actual gameplay takes place on the ins and outs of different regions, fetching items, acquiring masks and completing quests. While some adventures may seem a bit quirky, they are memorable nonetheless. Who can forget the mission where you had to help Lulu get back her eggs and restore her voice so that she could rejoin the Zora band? Or my personal favorite quest, reuniting Anju and Kafei. On the final day just before the moon plunged into the sky, the two lovers were finally united, what a perfect end to an imperfect world.
Although The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask has made a name for itself, players such as myself can’t help but feel that they are a part of this new release. I mean, how many people actually contacted Nintendo and requested the revival of this title? I know I did, even if it meant typing in “REMAKE MAJORA’S MASK” in all of the comment sections of my Club Nintendo point redemptions. And after so many years of waiting for a remake, it is finally here and I have YET to put it down.
The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask is a monument of what creative games can always strive to be. It is a symbol for a strange time in the new century. Not only was the game ambitious compared to other games in the generation, but the lore stands out completely in comparison to its predecessors. Playing through this game for my fifth time I start to notice my mind bending and twisting through the games off beat environments. As I take different forms and shapes through twisted paths and temples, I realize that Majora’s Mask may just be one of the strangest video games of all time —and it’s perfect.
If you haven’t yet, check out our review here!