Nerdism at its best

February 19, 2015

Majora’s Mask N64, why it is my least favorite game.

Majora's Mask artwork

Before I go on with my rant this is solely based on my experience with the N64 version. I am aware of the 3DS version and I am not convinced yet that I need to give this game a 2nd chance.

Majora’s Mask (the N64 version) is an acquired taste and as remarked so many times before, it’s not for everyone. The beginning part is the only part in which the 3-day cycle gets really irritating. The game departed too much from traditional Zelda values, but made up for it in a quirky, innovative way. What it lacks is replayablilty. There is a pattern with Zelda games; 15 years down the road from time released they are almost universally loved by the same people who were complaining about it 15 years ago. Before you start asking yes, I’ve completed the game. I’ve completed it back when it was on the N64 I disliked it then. I didn’t like the distanced atmosphere and the “everything is a time limit” mechanic. You could not build a relationship to characters, since every character in town did forget you after the time reset. This is minor, but also that after working your ass off to get the ultimate final mask, you can only use it during the end-boss fight – what a letdown. Each day is only about 18 minutes for a total of 54 minutes on the first day. Imagine only having 54 minutes to trial and error your way through the rather large beginning area of the game talking to people and trying stuff hoping to find a solution. A time limit for something you have no clue in what you are doing a lot of times will frustrate you. Yeah, I know of the inverted song of time which triples your time which you can do after you get your Ocarina back. That does help quite a bit, time itself is a constant reminder and pressure for you to finish whatever it is you are doing… I constantly felt rushed.

A crappy save system. You are only allowed to save your game in two ways: Owl Statues and when you reset time Via the Song of Time. Owl statues are only temporary saves though, that means you are forced to play out any sequence until you get a mask or item you need to progress until it’s safe to perma-save by resetting the time. But since you absolutely have to finish something or restart a quest from the start that is a lot of pressure to put on to a person playing. I get why they did this because if they didn’t, you could cheat the time system. But you still can cheat simply by copying owl save files to another slot. But I’m talking about a legit-play through attempt. I remember the frame rate being atrocious in areas. Walk around the place in Termina field where those huge Dodongos are or roll around as a Goron in the Goron Village and watch the frame rate plummet. There are many more spots, but those are good enough to show you what I mean. These frequent frame rate drops can throw off your timing, making you take hits, miss things and even die as a result.

People have defended the game in this regard by claiming that the reason for it is because they pushed the system and game to its limits. But let’s face it: If you really pushed it to the max making it have bad frame rate at spots as a result and you were a designer, wouldn’t you try to tone stuff back so it runs smoother? Exactly. The amazing thing is that the game uses the Ocarina of Time engine and that the game still needs the expansion pack to run. Ocarina of Time was MUCH more consistent and it only used half the RAM (4MB instead of 8MB) because it didn’t need the Expansion Pack. What’s the deal here?

How is it possible that this game has so many blindingly obvious issues anyway? It’s very likely because they rushed it out in just a year. To do that, they lazily reused sprites and graphics from OoT and said that Termina was a parallel world to Hyrule. Except… Whoops, they didn’t actually say that anywhere in the game. They instead described it in the manual. See here: http://zeldawiki.org/Termina#cite_note-0. So it is debatable if they just made that up after the game was made to cover their mistake of leaving it out of the game or not because we all know it is certainly something that could have been explained in-game since that is not beyond the technical capabilities of the game or system. I could go on and on and on, but I’m done here. I covered all the major points on why I think the game is bad. I finished the game once I will not return to it. I will not play the 3DS version. I will never play through the game again because I don’t like it. I just beat it for the sake of saying that I did beat it. I get the feeling that so many people who love this game want me to reply the newer version thinking that is will debunk my negative thoughts on the game. But they will just have to get over the fact that they will not be able to change my stance on it.

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