I love video games. I’ve had some form of Nintendo from the age of 4 to the present and have given my thumbs blisters on many occasions. In my 20s, I’ve been tempted over to other systems with the release of excellent games not available for Nintendo. But Nintendo has always drawn me back. And this one game has always drawn me back.
The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask was released back in 2000 when I was 13. After Ocarina of Time blew my mind two years earlier, I was eager to blister my thumbs during the inevitable 8 hours of game play EVERY DAY until I completed the game. After a few days though, I found my mind wandering. It’s not that the game wasn’t enjoyable; I just started to become overwhelmed with the futility of my actions within the game’s universe.
That last bit requires some explanation: the game is set over the span of 3 days. You repeatedly travel back in time to the beginning of the 3 days to find a way to stop the slowly falling moon, which will crash into Termina (the world in which the game is set) on the final day. When you travel back to the first day, everything is reset to the way it was on that day (save for the masks you’ve obtained, travel points you have created, money saved in the bank, and your weaponry). People you’ve helped and tasks that have been completed are all undone in the trip back to the first day.
Now you can see how annoying this can get.
I also had trouble completing the game as it is quite scary. Not in the gory, things-popping-out-at-you scary but the subtle, get-under-your-skin-and-keep-you-awake-at-night scary. A piece of unsettling music begins to supersede all other background music as midnight of the final day nears. The clock is constantly winding down while the grimacing moon gets closer and closer. And there’s the villain: a powerful, ancient, and sentient relic in the form of a mask that amplifies the dark desires of its wearer before corrupting and possessing the “puppet” to further its own motives. But the thing I found the scariest about Majora is it has no real motive. The use of its power to drive people insane, to destroy the world of Termina, and to generally make everyone’s lives as miserable as possible is just because Majora wanted it. At least Ganon’s repeated rampages through all the other Zelda games were because he desired power. What does Majora want? You never find out.
Lastly, the game is hard! I’m a person that likes to get through the main plot first and leave the obsessive pursuit of side quests to the people who write the video game walkthroughs. Majora is 80% side quests! All of which can only be done on certain days and at certain hours with certain items. Thank God the dungeon bosses are easy otherwise I’d never finish this game.
In spite of how many times I’ve thrown my hands in the air and tossed this game out the window, every so often I’ll get that itch to see if I can beat it.
I got that itch again after discovering that the game was available on the Wii Virtual Console and after I read this entry for the game under the “Earn Your Happy Ending” trope over at TV Tropes:
The world is going to end in three days and only you can go back in time to prevent it from happening. All the while people around you are depressed or dying, the four areas are in turmoil with suffering for all who live there, and trying to help anyone is pointless because you have to turn back the clock eventually to stop the end of the world making all your efforts to help pointless. All the while the Moon continues to stare down at you, scaring you and mocking your efforts at the same time. And yet despite all that you still keep going. You struggle for the light at the end of this dark tunnel. And when you finally see the sun rise on the 4th day, you know it was all because you didn't give up.
I’ve declared that 2011 will be the year I defeat Majora once and for all. After years of seeing “Dawn of the Final Day, 24 hours remaining” and being stuck in the same 3 day cycle, I finally want to knock Majora to the moon and see the dawn of the 4th day. Wish me luck!