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Platform

N64

 

Genre

Role-Playing

 

Publisher

Nintendo

 

Developer

Nintendo

 

ESRB

E (Everyone)

 

Released

Q4 2000

 

 

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The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask

 

 

Majoraís Mask opens with Link being ambushed then transformed into a Deku scrub. Things go from bad to worse when heís transported to an alternate dimension that is 72 hours from Armageddon courtesy of a maniacal looking moon. Fortunately, Link can play his ocarina and go back to the moment he arrived in town, allowing him to repeat the same three days ad nauseum. Obviously, Linkís mission is to halt the moon and restore order.

 

Some reviewers have drawn parallels between Majoraís Mask and the Bill Murray movie, Groundhog Day, and rightly so. By the time you finish MM you will be very familiar with the events that go on during the three days but youíll be having so much fun you probably wonít even notice.

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Writing a review of MM is tough because there are so many levels of gameplay, so much depth that it would be impossible to cover all of them in a small review. Those familiar with Ocarina of Time will instantly be comfortable with the control, targeting system, and puzzle types. The biggest differences arrive in the form of the many masks available. There are three transformation masks and several "power-up" masks. The transformation masks, the Goron, Deku and Zora (which replace the tunics 

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in OoT), completely change Links appearance and offer different powers. For example, the Goron mask turns Link into a Goron fighter capable of delivering powerful punches, zooming around rolled up in a ball and cannon-balling into the ground. Steep inclines that Link canít climb can be overcome easily by rolling as Goron Link and if heís going fast enough he gets air (and smashes through enemies and other objects). Each transformation has unique abilities and pros/cons for each situation. Deku link is very vulnerable to fire (one hit and heís burned alive) and canít swim worth a darn (five steps across water is his limit then he plunges to the bottom). The non-transformation masks are also useful, and a few are absolutely silly. The bunny hood looks ridiculous but it doubles Linkís speed, which is very, very useful. Out of bombs at a critical moment? Not to worry, one of the masks allows Link to blow himself up! The pig mask is probably the funniest looking. Characters in the game respond differently to Link depending on which mask he happens to be wearing. This variable allows for many different interactions throughout the game.

To keep track of all the characters in the game a notebook has been included. As Link meets up with major characters they get entered automatically in the notebook. The notebook also records tasks that need to be performed for them and any other pertinent information. And since there are so many characters, you will be glad of this feature. Each character has a three-day agenda and they can be followed about to see what their routine is, which is necessary in some instances. Most of the characters are ripped right from OoT.

The environments are wide-open for the most part, especially the outdoor areas. Dungeon areas have many challenges and Link will have to use many of the masks to complete them. Each dungeon has fifteen fairies to find which, when returned to the nearby fairy fountain, reward Link with a double magic meter, etc. Combat utilizes the Z-targeting method found in OoT and works just as well. Most of the enemies are familiar but there are some new additions. Dungeon bosses are huge! They arenít particularly hard to defeat, especially for the seasoned gamer, but they still provide enough challenge to not to be pushovers.

 

The ocarina adds yet another level of challenge. There are lots of tunes to learn, each has a different effect on the environment or other characters. The Song of Time can be played in different ways.

Play the tune inverted and the doomsday clock slows down. Double up the notes and the time frame jumps ahead. Play the tune straight and Link is sent back to Day 1. The most useful tune, Song of Soaring, is very welcomed because it allows for easy warping to various locations and save points. (To save a game Link must activate one of the many owl statues scattered throughout the game world. This can be an annoyance when compared to the simple save feature in OoT.) The music and sound is good, with most of the music taken from OoT. The original music and sound effects are haunting, especially with five minutes remaining on the clock.

Graphics are spectacular! The attention to detail is excellent, especially the moon. Itís forever getting closer and if Link looks up itís always there, and you can actually see it getting closer if you watch it long enough. And now Link leaves tracks in the snow and dirt! Thank goodness for the RAM pack.

Puzzles and mini-games are all over the place. In fact, there are so many puzzles and things to do you may feel overwhelmed at times. Lots of the puzzles and challenges are optional and most are well designed and incorporated nicely into the overall story. If you like getting all the items and exploring every nook and cranny you will be busy for many hours.

Bottomline, everyone that owns an N64 must own this game! Graphics, sound, music, puzzles, action and masks combine to form a game that is addicting, fun, challenging are perfect. Minor quibbles aside (save feature, learning to love the three-day cycle), this is probably the greatest game ever for the N64, if not for any console system.

- Omni

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