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The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask

video game review video game review video game review video game review Video Game Review: The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask Publisher: Nintendo
Category: Role-Playing, Adventure
Platform: N64
ESRB Rating: Everyone    Release Date: October 2000

Overall Rating: 4 Stars out of 4

Review by Tom Allen
4 Stars out of 4

Easily eclipsing the wonder of Miyamoto's Ocarina of Time, Majora's Mask is a major success for Nintendo. A leading contender for Game of the Year, this instant classic builds upon the Zelda formula established in the previous game, but the facelift is of the Dick Clark caliber, not the Joan Rivers caliber.

One of the most annoying aspects of the last game was when you would talk to a character and then realize you should have a certain item equipped. In Majora's Mask, you can press Start in the middle of a conversation to access your item bank. Problem solved!

Another downside to Ocarina of Time was a certain feeling of isolation that clashed with the colorful worlds. In Majora, the overworlds are just as well designed as the dungeons, and the game play is just as task-oriented. Conversations are not as intrusive to the flow of the game this time.

The game begins when the Skull Kid turns Link into a Deku shrub creature. As plants, these creatures are light enough to be carried by the wind or hop across water but are also easily scorched. As the game progresses, Link is able to interact with the environment in other forms such as Goron Link (rock creature) and Zora Link (water creature). ,P> The three-day structure of the game is perhaps the best addition to Zelda. The entire game takes place across the final three days before the end of the world. In these 72 hours, you will have a "super-objective" which you can complete by attending to smaller goals. After you complete that large mission, you play the Ocarina to take you back in time to the first of the three days. You retain the items you earned from the last goal and continue on a new quest.

This set-up may sound strange, but it accomplishes something very important, in that every part of the game has a backdrop of suspense. Thankfully, you don't always feel like you have to beat the clock in a mad rush, but you are at least aware that time is a factor in your activities.

Miyamoto's characters seem much more vibrant and alive in this game. The Deku creatures, for instance, have real personality. The idea that plants may "lease" the crack in a sidewalk to each other is nothing short of hysterical. Next time you have weeds in your yard, consider offering them a real estate agent, and maybe they will leave without you having to evict them (hee, hee).

No game is complete without a serene snow world, and here again, Majora's Mask delivers. The graphics vary in quality from unbelievably bad to exquisite, but take comfort in the fact that, once you reach Clock Town after the introduction, the graphics are much better overall.

In short, while Ocarina of Time wasn't much fun until Link became an adult, Majora's Mask is fun from start to finish. The masks and different creatures add a lot to the game play variety and fun factor. For the next Zelda, though, I would like to see some sort of strong protagonist-antagonist conflict that develops organically throughout the entire game. Majora is effective as a mysterious, rarely seen villain, but other characters (i.e. Shadow Link from 8-bit Zelda II) could be even more interesting.

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