Trotting through a lush, green forest, Epona follows her master, Link, through a foggy and mystifying forest filled with massive trees and busy creatures stirring in the silence of the environment. From behind a tree, the silhouette of a creature chuckles to itself and slowly approaches an unsuspecting Link. Although Link is a proficient swordsman, the imp suddenly mounts Link’s horse, Epona, and attempts to escape with it as his prize.
Just in the nick of time, however, Link manages to grab onto the scoundrel’s leg and is dragged along the forest floor as Epona gallops deeper and deeper into the forest. Although sharp sticks and jagged stones cut and scratch Link’s skin, he hangs onto the creature’s foot, desperately attempting to regain custody over his horse and his stolen instrument, an ocarina. Eventually, the imp stops and forcibly shakes Link off. As the shadowy figure approaches him, Link realizes the thing isn’t any mere creature, but a boy, wearing a sinister-looking mask that radiates an evil aura. What could cause this aura of darkness? Nothing less than Majora’s Mask.
Twelve years ago, The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask was released on the Nintendo 64 and has always lived in the shadow of its prequel, the all-time classic, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Receiving a 9.9/10 from IGN, Majora’s Mask deserves much more credit for its ability to create a new and creative story within the Zelda universe. More specifically, Majora’s Mask takes the player through an in-depth story of saving Termina, a territory within the Zelda universe, which serves a similar role as the classic kingdom of Hyrule.
The largest difference in this game and Ocarina of Time is that, despite the name, Zelda is not involved in the game and the goal really has nothing to do with her. Rather, Link’s quest is to stop the Moon from falling onto the Land of Termina. Absurd, right? But there’s a catch. Link must complete this task in only three days! Oh, and remember the masked boy that stole his horse? He also turns Link into the most pathetic creature of the land, a Deku Scrub, a wooden creature that is essentially a miniature Tree Ent from The Lord of the Rings.
Now many of you must be thinking, “This game isn’t worth playing. Zelda’s not even in I,t and the task seems impossible.” Or is it? Right after Epona is stolen from Link, Link discovers a masks salesman who tells him of an imp that stole his most valuable mask. Now where has he seen a boy with a mask? Oh wait, he stole Link’s horse! Next the salesman tells him that this mask was made by an ancient tribe that was subsequently eradicated by its sheer power, but that he had obtained it by some chance. How? He doesn’t care to elaborate, but sends Link on a crazy quest to obtain this mask or else the moon will fall.
As a bonus, he also promises to teach Link a song on his magical ocarina that will turn him human again, once Link takes it back from the wretched imp. Eventually, he does get the ocarina back and learns the song, turning him human and transferring the essence of the Deku Scrub into a mask that, when worn, will turn Link into a Deku Scrub whenever he pleases. So then Link’s main quest begins!
As you can guess, masks are essential within Majora’s Mask to accomplish Link’s goal. Each mask Link obtains also has a special ability, be it exploding to inflict damage on enemies, talking to animals, running and jumping like a rabbit, or transforming into a giant. Although the masks are not easy to obtain, the side quests undertaken to gain them are rewarding– a feature that makes the game unique to its predecessor.
Like all Zelda games, Majora’s Mask is a role-playing game focused more on plot development and side quests rather than slaughtering enemies. Majora’s Mask presents unique puzzles in all four of its dungeons that attract and challenge even the most experienced players. In my eyes, it is among the all-time best video games.
Majora’s Mask is available on the Nintendo 64, Gamecube’s The Legend of Zelda: Collector’s Edition, and Wii Shop.