Majora's Mask: Masterpiece or shameful recycling?

Steve says: While "masterpiece" might be a bit generous, I certainly think it was the better of the two N64 releases. Given the time and expense invested in the development of a standalone engine for Zelda 64 (after the Mario 64 engine proved largely inadequate for the task), it made sense for Nintendo to try to squeeze a bit more blood from that stone. If anything, though, they should be commended for doing something so unique with the series when critics, fans, and shareholders all would have been satisfied with Zelda 64 part 2.

Uppa says: The reutilisation of Ocarina’s assets and resources is composite to what instils Majora’s Mask with its pervasive essence of unease--an element so richly ingrained in what makes the game such a binding piece of work.

The control scheme resembles Ocarina’s so closely that the player no doubt feels comfortable in Link’s shoes, certainly insofar as experiencing a sense of security. But as far as familiarities go, it is only in this domain that resemblances to Ocarina are least afflicted, and each successive hint of familiarity is thereupon distorted. The music is directed chiefly by Ocarina’s Koji Kondo--summoning up those vibes of familiarity--but his score is now malign and warped…and uncomfortable interferences--be they from the encroaching of new styles in Toru Minegishi’s battle themes or that looming and strained melody that permeates the game--communicate a very tangible dissonance when pitted against surviving anthems from Ocarina of Time. A hardened fighter no doubt you might be--but you’re not as at home in this new world as you first thought.

Returning characters and faces summon up memories of Ocarina, but each personage now imposes a depth of personality on the player: they won’t respond as you expect. They surprise by acting in ways now indisputably human: the reality of their traumas is surreal in light of the flatness of their Hyrulian counterparts, who contradict all of what is inherent in Termina’s. This sense of what you knew being questioned and distorted is only possible in light of what was experienced in Ocarina: consequence of extensive sourcing from OoT, Nintendo searched for a new hook. The expanse of Hyrule--deemed too difficult to emulate in crafting a new Zelda quickly--gave rise to the three-day system, wherein the world and its people--now people you care about--are constantly at risk. The central thematic, the masks--themselves reflections of Ocarina--are used in different ways, again engendering a sense in the player that they aren’t yet a veteran. So, too, are the items familiar…and yet for every vibe of home you get, there is double the sense of distortion: the hook-shot is now some bizarre utility; the Kokiri Sword is now less a toy, more a full-blown machete designed for hacking, killing; and the Mirror Shield, once an almost elegant-looking defence, now dons an expression of unwavering despair and fear…and it’s always there on your back, reminding that despair is omnipresent. Fear; a sense of never being at ease, just like the citizens of Clock Town beneath the moon, is an axiom in this new world, one that smacks of familiarity, but is warped, twisted, and thickly laced with darkness. Majora’s Mask pillages Ocarina shamelessly. But it takes one heck of a masterpiece to make this theft its most arresting quality.

Zelda Barrow says: Masterpiece, all the way! It was "unique" to the LOZ franchise.

The Missing Link says: It is obviously recycling at some point; it was done because they reused a lot of assets if only to be able to come out with a new Zelda game in a very short amount of time. However, at the same point, it was able to do some very interesting and very different things all the while, and so it\'s not simply an Ocarina of Time clone. It definitely had a lot of things OoT didn\'t have, and that\'s definitely something.

Jeremy says: Majora's Mask was one of Nintendo's most clever inventions. I prefer to forget Ocarina of Time exists and go from Link's Awakening to Majora's Mask (the timeline fits if you exclude Ocarina, but don't get me started on that).

Ellie says: again. majora's mask was shameful recycling.

Anders says: While MM lacked the epic feel of the original, it was nice for those of us who played OoT to death.


BBB says: I never finished Majora's Mask and I don't care to. I lean more toward shameful recycling because Ocarina's leftover dungeons (only four in the game), situations, and friggin CHARACTER models were used. Similar to how they're making Mario Galaxy 2.

Final Notes:

Great responses this time around! I was happy to see a lot of answers fall somewhere in between "masterpiece" and "shameful recycling." While we definitely saw some of the MM hate that is out there in the general Zelda population, a lot of people saw the economics of the situation when it came to Nintendo wanting to get a bit more out of their Ocarina of Time efforts.

I think Uppa hit the nail on the head -- "Majora’s Mask pillages Ocarina shamelessly. But it takes one heck of a masterpiece to make this theft its most arresting quality."

Thanks for participating.