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The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask

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Majora's Mask Artwork
The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask
The Legend of Zelda - Majora's Mask (logo)
Developer(s) Nintendo
Publisher(s) Nintendo
Designer(s) Shigeru Miyamoto
Eiji Aonuma
Engine An updated version of Ocarina of Time's engine
Release date(s) N64
JP April 27, 2000
NA October 26, 2000
EU November 17, 2000
Collector's Edition
JP April 1, 2004
EU November 14, 2003
NA November 17, 2003
AUS March 19, 2004
Virtual Console
PAL April 3, 2009
JP April 7, 2009
NA May 18, 2009
Genre(s) Action-adventure
Mode(s) Single player
Ratings ELSPA: 11+
ESRB: E
OFLC: G8+
PEGI: 7+ (GCN)
Platform(s) Nintendo 64
Nintendo GameCube
Virtual Console
Media 256 Mbit (32 MB) N64 cartridge
Nintendo GameCube Game Disc
System requirements Expansion Pak (Nintendo 64)
21 Memory Card Blocks (Collector's Edition)
1 Memory Block (Wii Virtual Console)
Input methods Gamepad
"During my travels, a very important mask was stolen from me by an imp in the woods. ... All I ask is that you also get back my precious mask that the imp stole from me. ... Why, to someone like you, it should by no means be a difficult task. Except... The one thing is... I'm a very busy fellow... And I must leave this place in three days. How grateful I would be if you could bring it back to me before my time here is up..."
Happy Mask Salesman

The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask (ゼルダの伝説 ムジュラの仮面 Zeruda no Densetsu Mujura no Kamen?) is the sixth installment in the Legend of Zelda series and the second and final installment to be released on the Nintendo 64. It was released in Japan on April 27, 2000, in Canada and the United States on October 24, 2000, and in Europe on November 17, 2000. The game is one of the most successful Zelda games, selling approximately 314,000 copies during its first week of sales in Japan and more than three million copies sold in total.

The game features an unusual storyline for a Zelda title. Rather than the setting being Hyrule as it is in most Zelda games, Link finds himself in the land of Termina, a parallel world to Hyrule, featuring many characters physically identical to characters from Ocarina of Time. A mysterious mask known as Majora's Mask has been stolen by a mischievous imp known as the Skull Kid, and is being used to summon the Moon to destroy the entire land of Termina. Link must stop the destruction within three days. Due to this apocalyptic looming urgency and the recurring theme of death, as well as the slightly spookier designs featured throughout the game (eg. the moon, the mask faces), many gamers consider Majora's Mask to be an overall dark game. Some also derive this darker aspect from the prominence of the number 4 -- major locations, temples, masks, bosses, etc -- and that the Japanese word for four (四 shi) is a homophone for death (死 shi) with the modern Japanese use of yon reading for cardinal numbers.

Unlike Ocarina of Time, Majora's Mask requires the use of the Expansion Pak, allowing for a higher polygon count, resulting in improved graphics. Although well-received by critics -- who praised its graphical improvements and a more original story compared to its direct predecessor -- it was commonly remarked that the game's darker atmosphere and time-based gameplay would have less general appeal than Ocarina of Time; indeed, Majora's Mask never outsold it.

Plot

Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.

Outset

"In the land of Hyrule, there echoes a legend. A legend held dearly by the Royal Family that tells of a boy... A boy who, after battling evil and saving Hyrule, crept away from the land that had made him a legend... Done with the battles he once waged across time, he embarked on a journey. A secret and personal journey... A journey in search of a beloved and invaluable friend... A friend with whom he parted ways when he finally fulfilled his heroic destiny and took his place among legends..."
— Prologue
Characters (Majora's Mask)

Artwork of various characters, scenery, and masks from Majora's Mask

The story of Majora's Mask is set after the events of Ocarina of Time. After the defeat of Ganondorf, Link is sent back in time so that he might relive his childhood. After some time has passed, he sets out on a journey with his horse, Epona, to find an unnamed friend he lost after his battles with evil. A fairy sound effect played as this information is disclosed likely implies that this friend is Navi, Link's Fairy companion who departed at the end of his adventure in Ocarina of Time.

Tatl and Tael

The fairies Tatl (above) and Tael (below) encounter Link and Epona

While traveling deep inside the Lost Woods, Link is ambushed and knocked off his horse by the Skull Kid, a strange imp wearing a peculiar mask, and his two friends, the fairies Tatl and Tael. The Skull Kid initially seems to recognize Link somehow, but quickly dismisses it, taking his Ocarina of Time. While the Skull Kid attempts to play the ocarina, Link comes to, and approaches the Skull Kid; he tries to lunge at the Skull Kid to reclaim his ocarina, but the imp quickly mounts Epona and takes off deep into the woods. Link is able to hold onto Epona for a little while before being thrown off, attempting to give chase on foot instead. Given no option, Link follows them into an entryway leading into a large, hollow tree. Once inside, Link finds himself on the edge of a great hole, and is too late to save himself from falling into it.

At the bottom of the hole, Link is confronted by the gloating Skull Kid, who claims he "got rid of" Link's horse. Using the evil powers of the mask, the Skull Kid then turns Link into a Deku Scrub. As the Skull Kid makes his exit, Tatl is separated from her brother, Tael, and has no choice but to ask Link's help in reuniting her with her companions. After navigating a complex of subterranean caves, Link meets the mysterious Happy Mask Salesman, who has the power to change him back into his true shape, though he is first required to retrieve his Ocarina of Time in order to do so. In exchange, he asks Link to retrieve Majora's Mask from the Skull Kid.

Majora's Mask

Carnival of Time Artwork

Artwork of the Carnival of Time

Exiting the caves, Link and Tatl find themselves in the middle of Clock Town, the geographical and economic center of Termina, a parallel world to Hyrule. They discover that they have arrived while the city is in full preparation for its annual festival, the Carnival of Time. Little by little, Link learns that a looming catastrophe is threatening the land: the Moon in the sky has assumed a horrible, evil face and has abandoned its orbit, instead traveling straight toward Termina. In three days, it will crash directly into Clock Town, presumably destroying all of Termina. With the third day almost up, Link finds the Skull Kid and retrieves the Ocarina of Time. Upon touching his precious instrument, Link is overcome by a memory of Princess Zelda teaching him the "Song of Time", remembering that the Goddess of Time will aid Link if he plays the song. Link learns from Tatl's brother, Tael, that in order to defeat the evil of Majora's Mask, he must travel to all four of the outlying regions of Termina and rescue "the four who are there," without much in the way of explanation. Left with no other option, Link and Tatl play the "Song of Time" as previously instructed.

Link and Tatl are taken backwards into time, and find themselves back at the precise point in time at which they arrived in Termina. Tatl recalls the Happy Mask Salesman's promise, and the salesman promptly teaches Link the "Song of Healing", sealing the curse placed upon Link within a Deku Mask, allowing him to assume his Deku Scrub form at his leisure. However, when he hears they failed to obtain Majora's Mask, the frustrated Happy Mask Salesman reveals to them the true nature of the ominous mask; it was created by a long-extinct tribe for use in their hexing rituals, but fearing misuse, they sealed it away to prevent a deadly cataclysm. The Happy Mask Salesman eventually recovered it, but he too, was ambushed by the Skull Kid on his travels. Once he had the mask, the Skull Kid initially used its power for small-time mischief before summoning forth the Moon to destroy Termina. The Happy Mask Salesman, aware of Link's past acts of heroism, has faith in his ability to regain the mask before he departs after the passing of three days.

Swamp and Mountain

Skull Kid and the Four Giants

Artwork of the Four Giants

Once outside, Link makes his way to the Southern Swamp, whose waters have been poisoned as a result of an evil monster that has taken over Woodfall Temple. Link eventually happens upon a group of monkeys, whose brother has been taken captive by the Deku Royal Family that rule the lands. When he arrives at the Deku Palace, Link finds out that the monkey has been mistakenly blamed for the kidnapping of the Deku Princess. Link is able to sneak into the monkey's cell, and learns from him the "Sonata of Awakening" that opens the way to Woodfall Temple. Link defeats the evil Odolwa within the temple, and frees an innocent spirit that had been sealed inside its body. The spirit, one of the Four Giants, deities who protect the four outlying regions of Termina, teaches Link the "Oath to Order", a song with which Link can summon the Four Giants to stop the Moon. Once Link returns the Deku Princess to the castle, the innocent monkey is cleared of all charges, and peace rules the swamps yet again.

Using the Hero's Bow that he found within Woodfall Temple, Link is able to access Snowhead in the north, which is trapped in a season of perpetual winter. Using the Lens of Truth, Link is able to see the ghost of Darmani, a fallen hero of the Gorons who reside in the mountain. He follows Darmani's ghost to his grave, where he tells Link his story, and of his disappointment with dying before he could save his people. Playing the "Song of Healing", Link is able to heal his soul, and allow him to pass on from the mortal realm; his spirit is sealed inside a Goron Mask, which Link uses to assume his form. Within the Goron Shrine, a young Goron is crying for his missing father.

Link eventually finds the Goron Elder, who asks "Darmani" to ease his son's distress by playing him the "Goron's Lullaby", however, he cannot remember the entire song. When Link plays the unfinished song for the Goron Elder's Son, he teaches him the rest of the song, inadvertently causing himself to fall asleep. Link plays the "Goron's Lullaby" for the bewitched Biggoron who inadvertently brought about the death of Darmani, allowing him to enter Snowhead Temple. After defeating Goht inside, spring returns to the mountains. With the coming of spring, Link is granted access to a cave wherein lives Medigoron, a manufacturer of Powder Kegs. After passing a small test, Link is granted permission to carry Powder Kegs and use them at his disposal.

Ocean and Canyon

Using a Powder Keg, Link is able to access Romani Ranch, where he is overjoyed to find his horse, still alive despite the Skull Kid's earlier words. After promising Romani to help save the cows from mysterious invaders, Link is taught "Epona's Song", allowing him to summon Epona to his side in certain places. Using his horse, he is able to jump the fence leading to the Great Bay in the west. The water temperature of the sea has gotten progressively warmer, rendering it inhospitable to aquatic lifeforms. Close to the beach, Link finds a fatally injured Zora and helps him ashore. The Zora, whose name is Mikau, tells Link of the troubles that have befallen the Great Bay -- among them the capture of the eggs of Lulu, his bandmate in the all-Zora band, The Indigo-Go's -- before collapsing. Link heals his soul with the "Song of Healing", sealing his spirit inside a Zora Mask. Using his new form's capacity for swimming, Link is able to sneak inside the fortress of the pirates that captured Lulu's eggs.

While there, he overhears a conversation between Aveil and a subordinate; while transporting the eggs from Zora Hall to their stronghold, the pirates were attacked by Deep Pythons, losing three eggs near Pinnacle Rock. Link is able to trade with a local Fisherman, who gives him a Seahorse that he caught. The Seahorse, wishing to rejoin its mate, guides Link to Pinnacle Rock, where Link rescues the final eggs. Link takes all the eggs to the Marine Research Lab, where they hatch and teach Link the "New Wave Bossa Nova"; the Professor admonishes him to rush to Lulu's side and play for her the song. As he does so, Lulu's missing voice is restored, awakening the Giant Turtle, a guardian of the sea. The Giant Turtle takes Link to Great Bay Temple, wherein he defeats Gyorg and restores the water's temperature.

Using a mask he obtained from the Gorman Brothers earlier, Link is able to enter Ikana Canyon, the once-proud home of two warring nations. This inhospitable land is mostly devoid of living inhabitants; a group of Gibdos have surrounded a house nearby. Link is able to restore the flow of water, activating the music box that is part of the house. The resulting song causes the Gibdos to retreat within the earth, allowing the little girl who lives there to leave her house freely again. Link is able to bypass her and sneak into her house, where he finds her deformed father, who has been cursed by Gibdos. Link is able to play him the "Song of Healing", sealing the curse within the Gibdo Mask. Link is able to use the mask to traverse the Empty Well nearby, leading him into the Ancient Castle of Ikana.

Within the haunted castle, Link encounters Igos du Ikana, King of Ikana, and his two bodyguards. After defeating them by bringing forth sunlight, Igos tells Link of the curse that was placed upon the land, preventing even the undead from dying. He teaches him the "Elegy of Emptiness", which can summon forth copies of his various forms, allowing him to climb the Stone Tower and enter the temple therein. In order to complete the temple, Link must manipulate gravity itself. After defeating Twinmold, the undead of Ikana may rest again, and Link has rescued all Four Giants.

Final Battle

Four Giants

The Four Giants temporarily prevent the Destruction of Termina

Gradually, Link learns from the Four Giants that the Skull Kid was once their friend, whom they had to leave behind when they left Termina to guard the land from their sleep. Using the "Oath to Order", Link summons the Four Giants on the eve of the Carnival of Time; they are indeed able to stop the Moon from falling, and the Skull Kid is rendered unconscious. As a reunited Tatl and Tael celebrate their victory, however, the mask reveals itself to be capable of acting on its own power; it travels into the Moon and is able to bring it down with more force, preventing even the Four Giants from stopping it from consuming everything. Though Tatl initally pleads with Link to restore time to the First Day, he realizes that they must destroy the spirit within the mask to free the land. Link bravely ventures after the mask.

Inside, or on, the Moon, Link finds himself on a pastoral, green field populated by strange children wearing the Boss Remains, as well as one wearing Majora's Mask. If Link trades all of the masks he has accumulated and solves the trials set forth by the children, the one wearing Majora's Mask will challenge him to a fight; to make the battle more fair, he presents him with the Fierce Deity's Mask. After Link defeats the three forms of Majora, the mask is rendered powerless, and a new day dawns. The Four Giants, though they must depart once more, make friends with the Skull Kid, and the Happy Mask Salesman has his mask. Though hesitant, Link leaves Termina behind to continue the search for his missing friend, as the happy inhabitants of Termina celebrate the Carnival of Time.

A post-credits scene reveals that Link and Epona made their way back to the Lost Woods, as they ride off towards a mysterious light that breaks through the dense forest. A large tree stump with carvings of Link, Skull Kid, Tael and Tatl, and the Four Giants is shown after.

Spoiler warning: Spoilers end here.

Gameplay

Gameplay (Majora's Mask)

The gameplay of Majora's Mask

The gameplay of Majora's Mask is based on the same 3D computer graphics engine used in its predecessor, Ocarina of Time. Link retains a variety of basic actions, including walking, running, rolling, and limited jumping. Majora's Mask is the second game in the Zelda series to take place outside the land of Hyrule, placing Link (voiced by Fujiko Takimoto) in a land by the name of Termina. Link repeatedly returns to the point of his original appearance three days before the crash of the moon using the "Song of Time" on the Ocarina of Time; he continuously relives these three days, collecting abilities and items required to prevent the catastrophe.

The gameplay in Majora's Mask is arguably deeper than that of Ocarina of Time, which features bombs, arrows, and music as tools to solve many of its puzzles. Majora's Mask retains these elements, and includes the use of Masks, character transformations, and the limit of a three-day cycle to add further difficulty and variety to many quests in the game. While it is notably shorter than Ocarina of Time and has been criticized for recycling character models from its predecessor, it is still widely considered a successful and popular game.

Masks and transformations

Masks, which first appear in a single sidequest in Ocarina of Time, play a much more important role in Majora's Mask. Whereas Ocarina of Time features only eight masks, Majora's Mask has 24 in total, a number of which are necessary to progress through the game. A few masks in Majora's Mask are invaluable, but many are designed to be useful only in certain situations, with several being used only once or twice.

When in human form, Link uses a variety of weapons. The sword is his standard weapon and is the most frequently used weapon in the game. Link can attack enemies with a vertical slash, a horizontal slash, a thrust, or a Jump Attack, while the shield is used for defending. The Hero's Bow and arrows are typically used to attack a distant enemy or to activate a switch. Link can use Deku Nuts to stun enemies, then inflict damage with another weapon. Bombs can be used to destroy enemies and other obstacles, while the Hookshot is capable of latching onto enemies or objects and pulling them toward Link, or vice versa. Deku Sticks can be used as torches when set ablaze.

Deku Link Transformation

Link transforming into a Deku Scrub upon donning the Deku Mask

Three special masks allow Link to transform into different species: the Deku Mask transforms Link into a Deku Scrub, the Goron Mask changes him into a Goron, and the Zora Mask turns him into a Zora. Each form grants unique abilities: as a Deku Scrub, Link can perform a spin dash, shoot bubbles from his mouth, and skip across water a limited number of times. Link can also launch himself into the air and slowly float down using Deku Flowers; while airborne, he can drop Deku Nuts onto enemies from above. While in this form, Link is extremely vulnerable to fire attacks. The Goron transformation allows Link to punch foes with great strength, stomp the ground with his massive body, and curl into a ball and roll at rapid speed. Link's weight as a Goron causes him to sink immediately upon entering water as well as press down giant switches. As a Zora, Link can punch and kick enemies, shoot Boomerang-like fins from his arms, and swim rapidly through water. Many areas of the game can only be accessed by using these transformations.

Guitar of Waves

Link in his Zora form

Link's Hylian, Deku, Goron, and Zora forms each receive different reactions from various non-player characters. For instance, Link's Deku form is that of a Deku Scrub child, and thus guards will not allow him to exit Clock Town. These same guards give Link no trouble in his Goron, Zora, or Hylian forms, as the first two are those of adults, and the latter carries a sword. Even some animals respond differently to Link's various forms.

A special mask called the Fierce Deity's Mask can be obtained at the end of the game if all of the other masks have been acquired. This mask can only be used in boss battles without the use of a cheating device or glitches. This mask transforms Link into Fierce Deity Link (also called Oni Link): a more powerful, seemingly adult version of himself, with face markings, fearsome white eyes, a bluish-silver tunic, and torso armor. This form also sports a giant two-handed helix-shaped sword which is capable of shooting bursts of magical energy while Z-targeting. Fierce Deity Link is voiced by Nobuyuki Hiyama, who voiced adult Link in Ocarina of Time.

Some other important masks are the Great Fairy's Mask, which helps retrieve the Stray Fairies scattered throughout the four temples; the Bunny Hood, which allows Link to run faster; the Stone Mask, which renders Link invisible to most non-player characters and enemies; and the Blast Mask, which emits unlimited bomb blasts at the expense of health—although Link can use his shield to block the explosion and avoid damage. Many other less valuable masks are only involved in optional sidequests. Examples are the Postman's Hat, which allows Link access to a Piece of Heart hidden in a postbox, and Kafei's Mask, which can initiate a long and complicated sidequest that offers several masks as prizes.

Three masks other than the transformation masks are required to complete the game: the Garo's Mask, which is needed for the Ghost Hunter to grant Link passage to Ikana Canyon; the Gibdo Mask, which allows Link to speak to Gibdos and navigate the Ikana Well; and the Captain's Hat, which allows Link to converse with Stalchildren and order them to open graves in Ikana Graveyard, one of which contains a stone where the "Song of Storms" is engraved. The Giant's Mask, though not strictly necessary for the completion of the game, is readily presented to the player during the course of the mandatory part of the game, and is extremely valuable; without it, the boss fight against Twinmold becomes significantly harder.

Three-day cycle

Main articles: First Day, Second Day, and Final Day

Since its debut, the Legend of Zelda series has always placed a heavy emphasis on free, open-ended exploration. Shigeru Miyamoto's The Legend of Zelda, released in 1986, is a vastly different game from his 1985 game, Super Mario Bros.: the timed, linear levels are replaced with an expansive world that the player may explore at will, provided they have the tools to reach their destination. The player may revisit areas already explored and proceed with the game only when they are ready. The game has no score; just the satisfaction of finding hidden treasures and collecting every item. This concept is retained in Majora's Mask, but for the first time in the series, a time limit of sorts is imposed.

Link is not free to wander around a dungeon forever; after three in-game days, he must play the Song of Time to travel back three days, resuming his adventure from Clock Town. Doing so strips Link of Rupees, ammo and the like, but major items such as masks and weapons remain. Additionally, characters besides Tatl will not remember any of their interactions with Link. All progress made through dungeons and side quests will be reset, meaning they can be completed again. Even dungeon bosses can be re-fought.

Link must plan what to accomplish in one cycle; trying to complete too much could result in running out of time halfway through a task, forcing him to abandon the task and attempt it again in another cycle. Link can easily keep track of the time by a persistent timer at the bottom of the screen. One hour in the game is approximately 45 seconds in real time, which can be tripled to 2 minutes and 15 seconds using the "Inverted Song of Time".

Link is not the only character who plans his time. Link can observe the schedules of several non-player characters, many of whom are in need of help in some way, during the game's three-day cycle. Using the Bombers' Notebook, a scheduler of sorts given to him by the Bombers Secret Society of Justice in Clock Town, Link can keep track of the schedules of multiple persons and identify the crucial points at which he may intervene to assist. In this way, Link is able to resolve problems ranging from protecting a ranch from mysterious creatures to reuniting an engaged couple, usually earning masks or other beneficial items as rewards.

Songs

The Ocarina of Time plays an important role in Majora's Mask. Link must learn to play magical songs from those he meets in order to gain special abilities, ranging from controlling the weather to such powers as teleportation and time travel. Different transformations use different instruments: Deku Link plays the Deku pipes, Goron Link plays the drums, and Zora Link plays the guitar.

The most important song in the game is the "Song of Time", which returns from the last game with new powers. Chief among these is the song's ability to return Link to the beginning of the first day; this is the only way to revisit the three-day cycle and permanently save one's progress. Other major songs in Majora's Mask are the "Song of Healing", which heals restless souls and turns them into masks, the "Sonata of Awakening", which awakens some characters and grants access to Woodfall Temple, the "Song of Soaring", which allows instant transportation between a number of fixed points, the "Oath to Order", which summons the Four Giants in order to stop the falling moon, the "Goron Lullaby", which puts some characters to sleep and clears the path to Snowhead Temple, "Epona's Song", a carry-over from Ocarina of Time which calls Epona and makes cows produce milk, the "New Wave Bossa Nova", which summons a giant sea turtle to carry Link to Great Bay Temple, the "Elegy of Emptiness", which creates mannequins of Link's various forms used to reach Stone Tower Temple, and the "Song of Storms", a carry-over from Ocarina of Time which causes lightning and rain. Two secret songs that Link is capable of accessing include the "Inverted Song of Time," which can slow the current flow of time, and the "Song of Double Time", which sends Link forward in time by half a day. Unlike all other songs in the game which use a preset melody, the player creates his own melody for the "Scarecrow's Song", which is used to summon a scarecrow. The "Scarecrow's Song", the "Song of Soaring", and the manipulated versions of the "Song of Time" are not strictly necessary for the completion of the game.

Termina

Main article: Termina
Termina

A map of Termina

Termina is a parallel world to Hyrule: the majority of Ocarina of Time's characters have counterparts in Termina who are identical in appearance. Some have very similar personalities, while others are very different in their manner, occupation, and relationship to other characters. For example, Malon from Ocarina of Time has two counterparts, a pair of sisters named Romani and Cremia, who live on a farm on Milk Road. Malon's father Talon from Ocarina of Time is analogous to Mr. Barten, yet Romani and Cremia are not related to Mr. Barten. Anju, whose chickens could be retrieved for a reward in Ocarina of Time, is a major character in a side quest. A plethora of other characters are also reused in Majora's Mask, including Koume and Kotake from Ocarina of Time, who are helpful shop owners rather than nefarious villains, and the Carpenters, whose occupations remain the same. For almost every character who was given a name in Ocarina of Time, their counterpart in Majora's Mask is given a different name. Later Zelda games break with this pattern however and reuse names from Termina even though they are set in Hyrule.

The land of Termina contains a wide variety of terrain. Clock Town lies at the center of Termina and is the place Link starts from when he returns to the beginning of the three-day cycle. The centerpiece of Clock Town is the large clock on Clock Tower that counts down the three days before the crash of the moon. Termina Field surrounds Clock Town; beyond lies mountains, a swamp, a bay, and a canyon, each of which houses a dungeon referred to as a temple. The main portion of the game features Link traveling to these dungeons and defeating a boss within each. Once Link completes the temples, he gains access to the moon in order to confront and defeat the final boss, Majora's Mask.

Temples

Located in the region of Woodfall, Woodfall Temple is the first dungeon visited in Majora's Mask. This shrine serves as a place of worship for the Deku; only members of the Deku Royal Family know the song that causes the temple to rise out of the swamp. Link enters this temple to rescue the Deku Princess. On his way, he picks up the Hero's Bow and purifies the toxic water that has been tormenting the inhabitants of Woodfall. The boss of the temple, Odolwa, is a large warrior equipped with a shield, a sword, and a mask. Odolwa has the ability to summon insects with a ritual dance and is agile, despite his size. Link can defeat him by shooting him with arrows while he dances, and then striking him with the sword to inflict damage.

Snowhead Temple atop Snowhead Peak is the second temple. Link enters the temple to halt a blizzard that threatens to wipe out the Goron race. This dungeon is full of snow and ice. However, the Fire Arrows found in the dungeon can melt many of the frozen obstacles. Goht is the guardian of Snowhead Temple and resembles a large mechanical bull. Link transforms into a Goron to battle him, rolling on a circular track and attempting to attack him with protruding spikes. It is also possible for Link to stand in the safety of the doorway and shoot Goht with arrows as he passes by. After the boss of the temple is defeated, the unnatural winter ends and spring returns to the mountains.

Great Bay Temple, located far offshore of Zora Cape, is the third temple of the game, and something within it has been polluting the waters of Great Bay. The Gerudo Pirates have been led to believe that the temple contains a treasure, and have stolen Zora Eggs that are a clue to the mysterious happenings in the bay. Although their boat was blown away in a storm surrounding the temple, Link manages to enter on the back of the Giant Turtle, a deity that he awakens. The waters of Great Bay Temple prove a great obstacle until Link obtains the Ice Arrows hidden within the dungeon. These arrows can freeze water and allow Link to proceed. A gigantic fish known as Gyorg is the boss of Great Bay Temple. Link must stun Gyorg and then attack it from the water using his Zora form, then flee to the safety of the platform before Gyorg can retaliate. The pollution coming from Great Bay Temple ceases once the boss has been defeated, though the waters of Great Bay do not clear up during the game, and continue to serve as a barrier which prevents players from advancing into the ocean.

Stone Tower Temple, housed in Stone Tower at the far end of Ikana Canyon, is the final dungeon. This confusing labyrinth is home to the Light Arrows, and, according to Igos du Ikana, undead King of Ikana, houses the curse that has left Ikana a wasteland filled with the undead. The King of Ikana requests that Link defeat the evil within Stone Tower Temple to free the land of the curse. After completing the upright version of the temple, Link fires a light arrow into a mysterious blood red emblem at its entrance to turn Stone Tower upside down, allowing him to proceed through the remainder of the temple. Twinmold, the guardian of Stone Tower Temple, is actually two giant sand worms. In order to defeat this boss more easily, Link can don the Giant's Mask, allowing him to grow to an immense size. The battle takes place on the other side of a strange portal, in a large stretch of desert scattered with ruins. After Twinmold is defeated, a strange energy is seen flying into the sky above Ikana, likely indicating that a curse has been lifted.

The four temple bosses each leave Boss Remains (masks that the bosses were wearing) when defeated. These masks were used to restrain the Four Giants and prevent them from saving Termina; once Link has all four, he can summon the Four Giants to stop the descent of the moon, and confront the three forms of the final boss, Majora.

Development

Following the release of The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening in 1993, fans waited over four years for Ocarina of Time, the active development of which took two years. By re-using the game engine and graphics from Ocarina of Time, a smaller team required only one year to finish Majora's Mask. According to director Eiji Aonuma, the team was "faced with the very difficult question of just what kind of game could follow Ocarina of Time and its worldwide sales of seven million units", and as a solution, came up with the three-day system to "make the game data more compact while still providing deep gameplay." Zelda creator Shigeru Miyamoto had a less active role in the production than usual.

The first reports of Majora's Mask started in May 1999, when Famitsu stated that a long-planned Zelda expansion for the 64DD was underway in Japan with no release date set. This project was tentatively titled "Ura Zelda", which translates to "Another Zelda". This expansion would take Ocarina of Time and make changes to the level designs, much like the Second Quest in The Legend of Zelda expanded upon the original game. In June, Nintendo announced that "Zelda: Gaiden", which roughly translates to "Zelda: Side Story" would appear as a playable demo at Nintendo's SpaceWorld exhibition on August 27 1999. It was assumed by the media that Zelda: Gaiden is the new working title for Ura Zelda.

Screenshots of Zelda: Gaiden released in August show unmistakable elements of the final version of Majora's Mask, such as the large clock that dominates the center of Clock Town, the persistent timer at the bottom of the screen, and the Goron Mask. Story and gameplay details revealed later that month show that the opening story of Link's travel to a parallel world where the moon is threatening to crash, as well as the use of masks to transform into a Goron, Zora, and Deku Scrub, were already in place.

That same month, Miyamoto confirmed in a Famitsu article that Ura Zelda and Zelda: Gaiden are separate projects.

It is unclear if Zelda: Gaiden is an offshoot of Ura Zelda or if the two were always separate. Ura Zelda would become the Master Quest in North America, eventually released on a bonus disc for the GameCube given to those that preordered The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker; a North American Nintendo 64 release was canceled due to the failure of the 64DD.

In November, Nintendo announced a "holiday 2000" release date for Zelda: Gaiden. By March 2000, new tentative titles were announced that would become the finalized titles: The Legend of Zelda: Mask of Mujula in Japan and The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask elsewhere.

A common belief about the game's development is that it was due to lacking enthusiasm for Ura Zelda. One of the developers, Eiji Anouma, complained about having to develop the game, so Shigeru Miyamoto challenged him to create a sequel to Ocarina of Time in a year's time, resulting in the creation of Majora's Mask. In exchange, the staff no longer had to work on Ura Zelda.

Improvements from Ocarina of Time

Majora's Mask runs on an upgraded version of the game engine used in Ocarina of Time and requires the use of the 4MB Expansion Pak. The requirement is thought to be due to Majora's Mask's possible origin as a 64DD title, which would necessitate an extra 4MB of RAM. The use of the Expansion Pak allows for greater draw distances, more accurate dynamic lighting, more detailed textures, more detailed animation, complex framebuffer effects such as motion blur, and more characters displayed on the screen. The expanded draw distance permits the player to see extremely far in Termina, and eliminates the use of fog to obscure distant areas that had appeared in Ocarina of Time. The extra memory was also used to manage the real-time NPC interactions. The texture design is also one of the best created for the Nintendo 64. Although some textures have a low resolution, they are colorful and diverse, which gives each area its own unique look. Finally, all building interiors are rendered in three dimensions in real-time, unlike some pre-rendered two dimensional backgrounds in Ocarina of Time, which require a fixed camera angle.

The music was composed by Kōji Kondō, whose score featured new interpretations of familiar melodies from Ocarina of Time and other previous titles in the Zelda series along with new material. The main overworld theme from the original Legend of Zelda returned, after being conspicuously absent from Ocarina of Time. Fujiko Takimoto, who contributed the voice of Link in Ocarina of Time, also voiced Link in Majora's Mask. Nobuyuki Hiyama (who also voiced the adult Link in Ocarina of Time) contributed the voices of Fierce Deity Link and Zora Link.

Re-releases

Nintendo GameCube

The Legend of Zelda - Collector's Edition (North America)

Box art for the North American version of The Legend of Zelda: Collector's Edition

In 2003, Nintendo re-released Majora's Mask on the Nintendo GameCube as part of the Collector's Edition. This disc could be purchased with a GameCube console, as part of a subscription offer to Nintendo Power magazine along with Mario Kart: Double Dash, or through Nintendo's official website by purchasing and registering a certain number of first-party Nintendo games. The offer expired in early 2004.

Similar to some other GameCube re-releases, the game is not a port in the traditional sense, but rather the ROM of the original game running on a software emulator; this has been proven by the ROM-dumping community, who have been able to extract N64-format ROMs from the disc that can even be booted on a Nintendo 64. The only differences are the colors of the action buttons due to the GameCube's green A button and red B button and the pause screen's use and depiction of the L button as the left page scroller, as opposed to Z. Aside from these, because it is only emulated (rather than altered for the new console), there are some timing discrepancies between the two consoles, and some of the music sounds inaccurate on the GameCube. Another issue that has been raised is that the game unexpectedly crashes on the GameCube occasionally; this is once again caused by the inaccuracies of the emulator.

Wii

Majora's Mask was released on the Wii's Virtual Console service in Europe and Australia on April 3, 2009; in Japan on April 7, 2009; and in North America on May 18, 2009. The game can be downloaded for 1,200 Nintendo Points in Japan and 1,000 Nintendo Points in PAL territories and North America. It was the 300th game to be released on the North American Virtual Console. The game can be played with the Classic Controller or GameCube controller. Although it is an emulated version of the game, it does not have the technical issues that the Collector's Edition had for the GameCube. Starting January 10, 2012, Club Nintendo members could download Majora's Mask for only 150 coins; this promotion ended on January 31, 2012.

Nintendo 3DS

A remake of Majora's Mask in the same style as The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D is currently under consideration by Nintendo. However, they want to avoid releasing another remake so shortly after the release of a previous one. Because of this, it was decided that The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds was to see release before this one; it is uncertain what Nintendo's current plans are about a potential re-release.

Reception

Reception
Review scores
Publication Score
1UP.com A
Edge 9 out of 10
Electronic Gaming Monthly 10 out of 10
Famitsu 38 out of 40
GamePro 4.7 out of 5
GameSpot 8.3 out of 10
IGN 9.9 out of 10
N64 Magazine 96 out of 100
Nintendo Power 9.4 out of 10
Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
Game Rankings 92.3% (31 reviews)
TopTenReviews 3.72/4 (22 reviews)

The game sold approximately 314,000 copies in its first week of sales in Japan and three million copies worldwide. Despite superficial similarities to Ocarina of Time, Majora's Mask is often described as very different and much darker than the rest of the series. Edge magazine referred to Majora's Mask as "...the oddest, darkest and saddest of all Zelda games". Reviews have generally been favorable, although opinions are mixed regarding whether the game is as good as its predecessor.

One common criticism is that Majora's Mask is not as accessible as Ocarina of Time. GameSpot wrote that some might "find the focus on minigames and side quests tedious and slightly out of place". Game Revolution wrote that it "takes a little longer to get into this Zelda", but also that "there are moments when the game really hits you with all its intricacies and mysteries, and that makes it all worthwhile".

Some feel that Majora's Mask is significantly better than Ocarina of Time in certain areas. According to Famitsu, "The difficulty level of the game is drastically improved [from Ocarina of Time], the limited saves, and the time limit to finish the game all help to make the game more enjoyable to play". IGN described Majora's Mask as "The Empire Strikes Back of Nintendo 64. It's the same franchise, but it's more intelligent, darker, and tells a much better storyline". GamePro characterized the story as "surreal and spooky, deep, and intriguing".

Majora's Mask was one of the last major titles for the Nintendo 64, and may have suffered in terms of popular interest due to the familiarity of the technology. Nevertheless, GamePro described the game as "living proof that the N64 still has its magic". It has been ranked the seventh-greatest game of all time by EGM, one position ahead of Ocarina of Time; however, Ocarina of Time ranks higher than Majora's Mask in the majority of such lists. In 2011, Majora's Mask was voted "Game of the Decade" by the users of GameFAQS, beating Super Smash Bros. Brawl, which came second.

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