Saturday, March 21, 2009

Underrated: Majora's Mask

Offworld has a lovely little tribute to what I feel is the most under-appreciated game in the Legend Of Zelda series.

Majora's Mask, much like Windwaker, got a bad rap for all the wrong reasons. Windwaker garnered a lot of criticism from fans who felt betrayed by the fact that the more "realistic" graphical style of Ocarina of Time was replaced with cutesy cell-shading and loose animation. Most of those criticisms went away after the game was released. If you aren't utterly charmed by Windwaker the moment you start playing, then there's just no helping you.

Majora's Mask didn't fare quite as well. Many people simply didn't play it. And many who did play it either didn't care for it, or became too frustrated to finish. Admittedly, the game is not quite as accessible as other Zelda games, due to it's unusual time mechanic. Many people just couldn't deal with a Zelda game that imposed a time limit on their adventuring. I wonder if this game was actually hindered by the fact that it was part of the Zelda franchise, and whether it might have found a larger audience as a standalone title.

The fact of the matter is, if you are willing to make the extra effort to dig into this game its rewards are fantastic. It is one of the most emotional games I have played, surprisingly. As you relive the same days over and over, gradually discovering each of the world's characters and their unique stories, it begins to weigh on you. More so than any other game I have played, you feel the weight on your hero's shoulders as he tries to save a doomed world. Because you become involved in the minutiae of their lives. You do your fair share of dungeon crawling and boss battling, too. But the real pull of this game is in helping each and every citizen of this small world find what their heart is seeking.

It is truly unique, and a damn shame that it hasn't been explored more in future entries of the franchise. Nintendo was on to something here.

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