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"According to legend... the troubles caused by Majora's Mask were so great... the ancient ones, fearing such catastrophe, sealed the mask in shadow forever, preventing its misuse."
Happy Mask Salesman

The Destruction of Termina is an event from The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask. If Link fails to stop the Skull Kid, the Skull Kid will use the power of Majora's Mask to cause the Moon to descend upon the land of Termina, destroying the entire world. If Link does not manage to play the "Song of Time" to reset the three-day cycle before 72 hours have passed, the Moon becomes engulfed in a ball of fire, and will draw loose rocks off the surface of the planet with its tidal force. The Moon will land on Clock Tower, knocking down the gears on the sides as well as the searchlight that was turned on it's side to make way for the clock platform. The Moon then completely destroys the tower, before reaching the ground and causing a huge fiery shockwave. Link, in whatever form he was in before time ran out, promptly sees the wall of fire heading for him, covers his eyes with his hands due to the intense light and is swept away by the fire as he screams. Afterwards, Majora's Mask is shown disappearing into the fire, followed by someone, presumably the Happy Mask Salesman, speaking of Link's "terrible fate" while the Happy Mask Salesman's laugh is heard in the background. Unlike when Link plays the "Song of Time", no progress from the last three days is saved.

After the cutscene in which the Moon falls from the sky, the Majora's Mask 3DS version adds: "And so the angry moon fell from the sky, annihilating this world and its many inhabitants. All items and such gained these last three days are lost."

Theory

Theory warning: This section contains theoretical information based on the research of one or several other users. It has not been officially verified by Nintendo and its factual accuracy is disputed.

Some believe that the Happy Mask Salesman saves Link by resetting the three-day cycle. Some evidence for this theory includes the prior laugh and quotation of the Happy Mask Salesman, and the first sentence he speaks to Link when he restarts under the Clock Tower, which is not something he says to Link during any other time loop, though nothing happens that directly suggests the Happy Mask Salesman does anything to save Link.

Others also believe that the sudden draw-back to the very beginning without the use of the Song of Time, can somehow be interpreted as Link's very own indirect doing. The 'Resetting' of the Time Cycle, may be attributed to Link's dormant abilities as The Hero of Time. Therefore, when faced with an inescapable scenario (such as the moon crashing and facing the incoming firewall) Link's survival instinct took over, allowing his Hero of Time spirit to awaken to save his life.

Another theory is that the Goddess of Time resets time, keeping Link from dying. Evidence supporting this is that Princess Zelda told Link, "The Goddess of Time is protecting you." It is possible that the Goddess of Time is resetting time either to prevent the death of the Hero of Time or to prevent the destruction of Termina. Both of these motives are plausible, as it seems that the Goddess of Time is a respected Deity in both Hyrule and Termina.

In the original version of the game, the sun begins to rise at around 4:00 AM. In the 3DS version, however, the sky stays dark and red for the whole night and even the brief part of the morning when the moon crashes. This implies that, at least in the 3DS version, the Carnival of Time falls on the day where the clocks go back, since on every other day, the sun will have risen well before 6:00 AM.

Theory warning: Theories end here.

Differences (N64 VS 3DS)

The event is visually changed in the 3DS version of the game. Examples include:

  • In the original N64 version, clouds are seen spinning around the sky, likely from hurricane force winds. In the 3DS version, the clouds hardly move, if at all.
  • Additionally, the sky is still dark in the 3DS version unlike the original, where the sun rises at around 4 o'clock.
  • In the original, when the moon is destroying Clock Tower, the water from the Laundry Pool can be heard, but no further sound effects were used. The 3DS remake added crashing and smashing sounds.
  • In the original, the moon made a humming noise and a stock sound effect of an earthquake as it fell. In the 3DS remake, the moon instead makes a droning noise that rises and falls in pitch, and it uses original earthquake sound effects.
  • In some versions of the game, some camera angles, such as the close-up of Clock Tower just before it is knocked down, reveal that the buildings of clock town have textures, such as walls, missing, likely due to the fact that the developers thought that the player would never be able to see them. In later versions of the game and the 3DS remake, the textures were filled in and in the latter, more buildings are seen, such as the Town Shooting Gallery.
  • In the original, enemies such as Red ChuChus and Real Bombchus are seen in Termina Field as the camera revolves around it in the opening scene. In the 3DS version, the enemies are despawned but items such as Rupees (For example, the one on top of a pillar near Ikana) are not.
  • The fiery barrier that surrounds the moon is dark red with moving gaps in the original. In the 3DS version, it frequently flares yellow, pieces of burning debris seem to float around it and it appears as a solid circle with no gaps at all.
  • In the scenes where the moon destroys Clock Tower, the 3DS remake makes it more clear which part of the moon is hitting the tower. For example, its teeth are visible when it first makes contact with the tower and the very edges of its mouth is seen when it destroys the searchlight.
  • In the original version, the camera shakes violently during the opening shot. It shakes far less in the 3DS remake, possibly because the scene would be heavily obscured on the 3DS if it shook so much due to the older system's low resolution.
  • In the very first releases of the game, the scene where the moon is seen from the exit of South Clock Town had the camera positioned below the floor. As a result, this meant that one could see up through the two poles that reside in that area. In future re-releases and the 3DS remake, the camera is zoomed in more, fixing this error.
  • In the original, when the moon unleashes a giant, fiery tsunami, it is rather see-through and is seen from a perspective that gives the player a lot of vision. When the wave passes objects, they do not get destroyed by the fire. In the 3DS version, rather than taking place between two bare trees, the perspective is behind several leaf-covered trees and the wave is much harder to see through, making it impossible to see what is happening behind it.
  • In the original, the moon keeps its flaming barrier when it unleashes the destructive wave. In the 3DS remake, the barrier dissolves into the wave.
  • When Link appears standing in a field, a different style of motion-blur is used in the 3DS remake.
  • In the original, when Link sees the giant wave of fire approaching him, the clouds appear orange and they cover most of the sky. In the 3DS remake, the clouds appear pink and move rather psychedelically, leaving large gaps in the sky.
  • When Link covers his eyes due to the intense light in the original, he immediately puts his head upwards. In the 3DS remake, his movements are more fluid, with him slowly raising his head.
  • The 3DS version adds an additional text box, stating what has happened as well as recommending resetting the game and restarting from where the player last saved.