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GAMES, MAGAZINE, Retro Classics

Majora’s Mask N64 – Turning Back The Clock Part 1

With the release of Majora’s mask on the Nintendo 3DS I decided to do the obvious thing, play it. However unlike everybody else booting up their 3DS consoles to play through Link’s adventures against the moon I decided to play ‘The Song of Time’ and rewind time with the Nintendo 64 version.

Majora

You see as a child I had an undying love for my N64 and for Ocarina of Time, it was literally the defining game for me. That game that takes you from playing games to actually being a gamer. Zelda was forever etched into my gaming history like no other game ever will. The one problem I had was that as a child I had no disposable income, so I never managed to own Majora’s Mask in the glory days of the N64. In more recent years however I have acquired the game that eluded me as a child, but there was always one road block in my head which always stopped me from blowing the dust out of the cartridge and giving this game a go. That roadblock was the time limit.

To keep things short I hate time limits. Even though I knew you could travel back in time to restart again the time limit always played on my mind. I had Ocarina of Time firmly in my mind, it was an epic quest across time with lots of areas and dungeons to explore and to defeat. The one thing that I did not want to do in Ocarina of Time was rush through it. So my mind could not fathom the idea of that same level of depth and epic story telling but against the clock. So sadly this was enough for me to put my gold Majora’s mask cartridge away to hibernate.

However the imminent release of Majora’s Mask on the 3DS bought the game firmly back onto my radar, whilst I could go out and buy the re-released version I thought that I owed it to my child self to play and complete Link’s adventure the way it was intended. I decided to dispel all wayward thoughts of time roadblocks and take that leap of faith that I should have taken years ago. I set up my N64, pushed in the cartridge and pressed the power switch. My journey had begun.

MMmoon

I was very pleased just how familiar Majora’s Mask felt, I had never played it before but the visual style and the feel of the game took me back to riding across Hyrule in Ocarina of Time. I always loved the idea of the masks, transforming into Deku’s and Goron’s and so forth, so I was excited to exit my Deku Scrub body so that I could finally utilise this power. After a game of hide and seek my wish was granted and I had full power of my mask.

Upon exiting Clock Town I was actually quite surprised to how small the over world was. I remembered Hyrule and the long rides with Epona from one side to the other, however a game with an ever approaching moon of destruction would benefit from a smaller over world. At this point at least the small size definitely detracted from my sense of scope and epicness of the quest. I can’t help but feel though as I explore more areas to fight in more dungeons this perspective will completely change.

It was not long until my first three days began to flitter away and my need reverse time came upon me. Over my first three days I saw the good points of the three day cycle and the bad. The good was that this world really does feel alive, people move around, will be at different places at different times, and different events will happen at different times. On my second three day cycle I managed to save an old woman getting robbed of her bomb bags, a great example of an event happening at one particular time. I also saw the town change, as the apocalypse drew closer, residents fled, dialogues changed people moved. I was oddly very emotionally attached already to the world of Termina, knowing the fate that was to bestow it’s residents whilst I knew I could escape.

The bad side however is largely due to the fact that it is just so difficult to save the game. Right now my game is set up to tackle the first temple, but I know I will have to set aside around three hours (at most) to give it a go. I have not tried the temple but I am assuming there are no owl statues once inside, therefore my only chance to save will be to play the song of time and restart. Whilst I love playing games to take me out of the every day life, there are just times when life cannot be avoided. Having me have to commit my time to a game is actually asking a lot from the player, and I believe it is not something that should be asked. Saving a game should not be a luxury, not with big epic adventures such as Zelda.

After playing my first section, i have fallen in love with the time mechanic, how it creates a world and a sense of impact on the residents lives. I can therefore see just why so many people are endeared to this game. However the lack of a good game saving option also highlights to me the limitations and potential pitfalls this mechanic has as a side effect. It certainly takes a little to get used to the time management, and whilst it has not hindered my gaming experience yet I have not put it through it’s paces yet. That will come in Part 2, where I will tackle my first temple – Wood Fall.

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