Bad Moon Rising

majoras_maskClaiming Majora’s Mask is the darkest installment on the Zelda series would be correct, but it would also be a major understatement. Its darkness does not just stand out among all of Link’s adventures, it remains pretty noteworthy even when the most twisted and devilish games ever made are also considered.

The title’s most impressive achievement is that whereas the average ominous software will muster an eerie atmosphere through the use of a generally pale color palette, Majora’s Mask does it while being colorful. The assets used here, from character models to textures, are almost completely extracted straight from its predecessor – Ocarina of Time. Yet, as if through some wicked sorcery, the developers were able to, by using the very same bricks, build a totally different creature.

majoras_mask2Its lighthearted visuals, which transit somewhere in-between cartoonish and fairytale-like, are in fact so utterly out of place that the game ends up feeding off of them. Everything, from the inhabitants of Clock Town to the dwellers of the regions on the outskirts of the world of Termina, gives off a charming tone that is in no way compatible with the gigantic disaster that is about to strike this place.

The angry moon constantly looms large in the sky as a reminder that, within three days, life will come down to a calamitous end save for a herculean miracle. Still, despite the impending and clear Armageddon, these people continue to go about their daily business without expressing the concern that such a disaster would warrant.

Link, the hero of time, seems to be the only one that gives the matter any sensible thought, which makes all occurrences in Termina mutually bizarre and unsettling. The weight of the journey that must be taken ends up being even heavier due to the fact that, instead of aiding you, these soon-to-be-annihilated beings are not shy to block your advances and send you on fetch quests.

majoras_mask3And while Link goes out of his way to help them, the clock never ceases to tick down to the scheduled apocalyptic hour. The sands of time wash away very quickly, and although Link knows that the playing of a powerful song will reset the countdown, the sense of urgency is huge since going back to the beginning of the maddening cycle means losing all progress that has been made.

Most games fail to broadcast desperation. Characters may shout “Hurry and rescue the princess!” as loudly as they want, but there will always be time for the savior of the world to drop by the nearest potion shop or sleep in a nearby inn. With Majora’s Mask, though, there is no kidding around; when one tells the hero to rush, he had better do so, or punishment will arrive swiftly and brutally in the collision of the moon against this odd universe.

majoras_mask4All those feelings and weirdnesses experienced by a legion of gamers back in 2000 will be resurrected next year on the Nintendo 3DS. The long-awaited and often-rumored remake of this sometimes overlooked classic will hit the system and be a must-buy to all Nintendo consumers. Those who loved the original game will have a great excuse to replay it, those who didn’t will have the opportunity to re-evaluate it, and younger fans will be given the chance to tackle a game that is completely unique both among the Big N’s canon and the history of the Zelda franchise.

If the Nintendo 3DS release of Ocarina of Time turned that tridimensional version into the game’s definitive outing, the same is bound to happen for Majora’s Mask. There is a bad moon on the rise, and soon enough three days will remain between us and the end of the world.


6 thoughts on “Bad Moon Rising

  1. I hate to say it, but I both love Majora’s Mask and get flustered by it. On one hand, the atmosphere, story, and pace of the game make it one of the more unique entries in Zelda. But the constant worry of the days going by, and having to go back and finish doing something you weren’t able to finish in time gets a little annoying. Maybe (probably) I just haven’t given it its due, but I definitely will give it a go on the 3DS. The last two Zelda remakes have probably been my favorite remakes of any games (Wind Waker remains one of my favorite games, and the Wii U remake made it work all the better).

    1. I haven’t bought the Wind Waker remake, because I have lost count of how many times I beat it on the GC, so I pretty much know that game by heart.

      But you are right, the OOT remake was just perfect!

      As for MM, have you tried playing the Song of Time backwards? It is the perfect remedy to those who do not want to be too rushed.

      1. You should definitely get Wind Waker HD. It’s probably the (forgive the increasingly-overused word) definitive version of the game. The Gamepad makes cycling through the menus/items so much more streamlined, the faster sail makes traveling more fun, and the Triforce fetch quest has been trimmed down. Probably the best remake I’ve ever played (sorry Ocarina 3D). I wish Nintendo would give the 3D Marios similar treatment.

        I have done the Song of Time backwards thing, but I don’t know, I guess I just never could get into MM as much as Ocarina or Wind Waker. Hopefully that will change come next Spring.

        1. It sounds great! I know many people have complaints about the Triforce Quest, but I loved it!

          It sends you sailing and exploring all over the map, and you end up naturally discovering many of the secrets that would not have been found if not for the existence of the quest. It goes along perfectly with the game’s theme of exploration and adventure!

          I am curious to see how that abbreviated version on the remake is.

          As for MM, hopefully the remake will change your mind! =D

  2. I found it interesting how you identified how the game uses the design of the moon to constantly remind the player of an impending misfortune. One of the clearest memories I have of the game is looking towards the sky to see the once distant moon suddenly close and filling the sky. I particularly liked going to the ranch to see the huge moon menacing Clock Town. I did find the characters did show concern for the disaster though. On the Night of the Third Day, I actually liked the way all the characters showed their fear for the moon’s crash, from the soldiers abandoning their duties to stare at the moon, the captain of the guards’ fear for the civilians still in Clock Town, the sword instructor cowering in fear in his hidden room and the postman flailing his body in desperation, a letter begging him to abandon his post and flee for his own safety on the bed next to him.
    I did think it was strange that the Moon was supposed to be a living being, not a giant piece of rock.

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