Saturday, September 24, 2011

A Rupee For Your Thoughts: Should There Be A New Majora's Mask?

The fans of Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask have always wanted to see and know more of the land of Termina and the characters within. A sequel, a prequel, and now some think Ocarina of Time 3DS is a great chance to request Majora's Mask 3DS. Should they get what they want?

In case it hasn’t become obvious based on my other Zelda-related posts, I kinda like Majora’s Mask. Okay, I really like Majora’s Mask. Actually, it’s my personal favorite Legend of Zelda game, even beating out Ocarina of Time. In fact, I daresay I can logically prove Majora’s Mask outclasses it in almost every aspec- WELL I should stop there for now. But the point I’m making is I love this game and it’s developed quite the rabid fanbase among the usual Zelda fans. It’s a game of a completely different kind than the others. Perhaps that’s why so many people are actually eager for Nintendo to acknowledge it more. To this day Nintendo still recognizes it as being far inferior to Ocarina of Time, which is silly because they themselves made it and I know Majora’s Mask is at least on par with Ocarina even if it’s not beating it (but just for the record I’ll say neither of them are even close to perfect).

So now I’m going to address something every Majora’s Mask fan thinks about: another game. Now I’m not just talking about a port to Virtual Console. I’m talking about Nintendo doing something new with the game. There could be a sequel to Majora’s Mask. There could be a “Master Quest” version of it, similar to Ocarina of Time’s. There could also be Majora’s Mask 3DS, giving it the same remastered features that OOT got. Or maybe the villain of Majora’s Mask could make an appearance in a future Zelda game. Or another game could acknowledge Termina exists. A lot of MM fans really want to see more of this game. 

BUT I do not. As many times as I’ve played it, as much as I’ve researched it, as many theories I’ve created, as much as I love it, Majora’s Mask should remain as it is. No remastering, no sequels, just keep porting it over on the Virtual Console or whatever. The game truly works best as it is.

So now I’m going to debunk all the major potential futures people would ask for it.

1. Majora’s Mask 3DS

The Scenario:

I’ll start with this one because it seems the most likely. Now that OOT is getting the 3D treatment with all the remastered stuff, fans are asking for MM to get some. And to celebrate Zelda’s 25th anniversary, and to submit to popular demand, Nintendo actually might decide to make MM3DS. It would take them a healthy amount of time to finish it, but they might soon decide to start.

The Problem:

Visual Style. Watch some footage for OOT3DS. Yeah it looks good, but is there something bothering you as you watch it? I don’t know about you, but I think it’s a little too bright, clean, and cel-shaded. I won’t go as far as to say it’s cartoony, but it’s similar enough. The harsher-looking polygonal N64 Zelda graphics makes the visual style more dangerous and less-friendly. Which is the point when you’re fighting bosses or visiting a devastated future market town. Everything looks brighter and clearer. That looks fantastic in Hyrule Field, but how does it look in Shadow Temple? Now I’m not saying this will make things bad for Ocarina 3DS, I’m sure the game will do great. Hell, it’s almost making me want to buy a 3DS. But I wouldn’t want these graphics slapped onto Majora’s Mask. I also don’t want them to try and make MM kid Link more expressive or something. The fact that Link remains silent and stoic in this game adds a lot to his character. It shows the maturity he has acquired from having gone to the future in OOT. That prior experience carries over in his memories and helps define his character in MM. On one hand he’s a kid, and on the other he’s an experienced and seasoned hero who knows how to save the world because he’s done it before, albeit in a different timeline/future. And don’t mistake me: Link does have a character in this game, perhaps more so than in OOT. The events that happen to him at the beginning help shape sympathy within him when he starts to understand the plight of the people he meets in Termina and it’s because of that sympathy that he decides to help so many minor characters. I’ll get into it in detail in a future post. Now if they digitally remastered Majora’s Mask, it is possible that they could do it correctly and update the same visual style of the game rather than simply using the same style of OOT3DS. If updating them, you need to update these two games in different directions because the visuals have different impact and meaning. They worked fine when they were very similar graphics in the N64 days because that old style happened to coincidentally work for both. But OOT3DS’ style wouldn’t work too well with MM3DS. I’d actually like them to give MM the 3DS treatment if they did it right, but I know what Nintendo is like these days. They are much lazier and neglectful of the deeper meanings of the stories and environments of games. I can tell by their work in Twilight Princess. 

2. Majora’s Mask: Master Quest

The Scenario:

Once again, to submit to popular demand for more recognition of Majora’s Mask, Nintendo might try the same thing they did with Ocarina of Time and make what is pretty much a port of the game but with a Master Quest mode in which the dungeons are more difficult and the puzzles harder. They would consider this not only a cheap move, but a nice move since they don’t have to update the graphics and risk damaging the visual style.

The Problem:

Majora’s Mask only has 4 maybe 5 dungeons if you count Bottom of the Well and Ikana Castle as one dungeon. Ocarina has 11 that were acknowledged and redone in Master Quest: the 3 Spiritual Stone Dungeons, the 5 Sage Medallion Dungeons, Ice Cavern (which is really a mini-dungeon but they counted it), Inside the Well, and Ganon’s Castle. Altering only 4 or 5 is a far less significant change than 11 and MM will suffer from a pointless alteration, since most of the game is not spent in the dungeons but out in the world collecting pieces of heart and solving sidequests. Majora’s Mask has a lot of sidequests, far more than OOT did (though quality of which I will not go into). In addition, the first two dungeons of Majora’s Mask aren’t anywhere near as good as Ocarina’s. Great Bay Temple did well though, and Stone Tower was absolutely epic. On top of this, Master Quest dungeons in MM would be pretty sadistic: not only is the clock ticking on a three-day time limit (or otherwise if you’re planning to go somewhere in the game at a specific time) but now the dungeon is far more difficult and complicated. Master Quest worked for OOT because you didn’t really have to go anywhere other than the end of the dungeon. You could take your time, hang out in there, and give it a lot of thought as to how to solve any obstacles. But that doesn’t work well in Majora’s Mask. And let’s not forget stray fairy collecting. 

3. Majora’s Mask 2


The majority of MM fans have always wanted a sequel. I’m starting to get the sense that Nintendo is straining for ideas. In Skyward Sword they even resorted to making a prequel to Ocarina of Time when they don’t usually want to deal with the Zelda timeline. Since OOT has been the earliest in the timeline until now, all games that followed take elements from OOT. Will they take the care to place many plot elements or subtle details that make the future Zelda games make sense in continuity? I don’t know, but I’m certain Nintendo would rather not want to put themselves in a situation where they have to figure all that out or deliberately neglect it. But a sequel to Majora’s Mask is an idea the fans are asking for, and it’s something they haven’t done yet. So Nintendo would decide to appease the fans and acquire a new idea for a story. It’s a win-win, right?

The Problem:

It’s a lose-lose. The game would suck and be a massive disappointment to the fans and Nintendo would take a lot of crap for being unoriginal and finally succumbing to the usual media idea of making an unnecessary sequel for greedy profit (I mean that’s would people would say about them). Sometimes fans don’t know what they want, and sometimes Nintendo gives them what they want without really thinking anything through (case in point: Metroid Other M). Majora’s Mask wrapped itself up very nicely and bringing about a sequel would be a story that doesn’t need to be told. What would they do? Make the moon crash again? Another form of impending-doom type apocalypse? But the original Majora’s Mask did that and it did that well. Going through that again would be pointless since it’s already happened in many 3 day cycles of the original. Okay, so what if the Mask survived its battle with Link, came back, and started wreaking havoc again? Well what would it do that could be worse than making the moon crash into the earth killing everyone and destroying everything? Actual permanent widespread destruction? Well that would be nice in a Zelda game, but then we wouldn’t get to the themes of the original game: hope and faith. Faith that the moon wouldn’t fall and faith in others. The impending doom scenario brings out the true nature of Majora’s Mask’s minor characters like Anju and Kafei. In addition, we can’t have the same story with Link getting trapped under the Deku Curse or anything similar. The Deku Curse is important because it humbles Link and as a result of his experience he has sympathy for characters under similar curses like Kafei or that guy who was becoming a Gibdo. And Link’s interactions with minor characters are the only major sources of his character development in this game. My main point is that a sequel wouldn’t do these things any better than the original did or it would ignore the most important aspects of the original that made it good.

4. Sequel to Majora's Mask that isn't Majora's Mask 2


Nintendo finally decides to acknowledge certain aspects of a Zelda timeline. It's high time to establish a continuous plot of sorts. Such a sequence of stories would have to involve a seasoned and experienced Link, not to mention a popular and well-known Link. Then they remember Majora's Mask Link. From his adventures in Ocarina of Time, he has been to the future and saved the world from Ganondorf in his adult form. He retains all of the memories from that future, and thus is more experienced. This Link goes on a quest to find Navi and stumbles into the world of Termina where he saves that land from Majora's Mask and the Moon crashing. Once his work is done, he departs the land and continues his journey, never to be seen again. BUT what if he WAS seen again in another land he needed to save or returned to a new crisis in Hyrule? An evil force threatens Hyrule and this expert world-saver is certainly up to the challenge.

The Problem:

This idea is mostly good. This would be epic and I would love to see it. I suppose the main problem with this would be the villain. They would have a seriously tough time outdoing Majora's Mask and Ocarina of Time Ganondorf, the two greatest Zelda villains in the franchise. How are they going to top an Evil King with the power of the gods ruling over a world corrupted by his tyranny and the mother-f***ing apocalypse? A hero as experienced as a post-MM Link would need one badass villain to go up against. But since it's unlikely to outdo the previous villains, the focus of the story would be Link's character. It should be about him rethinking his life, wondering if he should really pursue a constant adventurous life or settle down and start a family with the girl of his dreams (not Marin, the literal girl of his dreams, but a new character)? Personal struggle, a choice between happiness and duty. Actual dialogue where Link talks (probably in text rather than voiced). To be honest, this doesn't even need to be a sequel to Majora's Mask. I just want to see some sort of deeper Zelda story that revolves around Link as a character and we get a thorough look into who he is and his personality rather than nothing at all.

5. Origin of Majora’s Mask

The Scenario:

Same as Majora’s Mask 2’s scenario, except Nintendo realizes that the first Majora’s Mask ended with things very much concluded and over and done with. So instead of moving an unmovable story forward, they decide to go back and explore the origins of Majora’s Mask, the Mask Salesman, and many previous events in Termina. After all, so many fans are curious about these things and would really want to see how all this stuff in Majora’s Mask came to be. More background on certain characters, the tribe that created the Mask, how the Happy Mask Salesman got it, and so forth. Majora’s Mask is full of unsolved mysteries and Nintendo might see a prequel as an opportunity to answer a lot of fans’ questions and clear up speculation.

The problem:

Sometimes a mystery should stay a mystery. Some of the greatest franchises ever have been severely damaged by prequels destroying the mysterious aspects that surround them. Samus got ruined by Metroid Other M, Wolverine got ruined by X-men Origins, and the entire franchise of Star Wars was ruined by its prequel trilogy. Prequels aren’t destined to fail and some work well, like X-Men First Class, .hack//Ai Buster, Red Dragon, the flashbacks in Godfather II, and…..actually Ocarina of Time was a prequel to Link to the Past. But what works about most of the good prequels is that they tell the origins of characters that are well known enough in the original. Professor X, Magneto, and Vito Corleone are not really mysterious; in movies featuring them in their later years they are who they are and that’s what works in those, the originals. Their prequel stories told their origins and how they got to where they were. Best of all, it didn’t ruin any mysteries concerning those characters by making a lame excuse for them like Star Wars did. I don’t want to know more about the tribe that used Majora’s Mask in its hexing rituals. The player’s own imagination is far more interesting than actual seeing what it would be like according to Nintendo. I don’t want to see the war between the Ikana and the Garo when they were alive and of human flesh. I am perfectly satisfied with always viewing them as the undead, still clinging to hatred and war hundreds of years after everyone met their horrible end. I’m not sure I want to see what larger role the Mask Salesman plays in all of this. When he says he went to great lengths to obtain the Mask all I can see his creepy grinning face on Indiana Jones’ body facing dozens of elaborate traps and a giant boulder. A lot of Legend of Zelda is about exploration. But sometimes the reality of exploration is that you won’t always understand everything you see and you won’t always find the answers to every question you have. Majora’s Mask is so popular because it’s an unsolved mystery, just as Wolverine and Samus Aran were cool in part because we didn’t know the full story behind them. Such realms of the unknown encourage creativity and imagination in players and viewers. It challenges our mind to consider what things would be like. Ignorance is bliss and prequels usually don’t leave much to the imagination.

6. *insert title here* including Majora’s Mask


Nintendo wants to appease the fans of Majora’s Mask, but realizes creating a new Majora’s Mask game isn’t a good idea. It could for multiple reasons, like those I’ve listed above. It could also be laziness, profitability, timing, budget, other projects they want to focus on, how it would work with new systems like 3DS or Wii U, or they just plain don’t like Majora’s Mask. It doesn’t really matter why they don’t want to do a sequel, prequel, or remake. The important thing is that in this hypothetical they won’t. But at the same time they don’t want to ignore the fans of the game and it wouldn’t look good if they just outright said they didn’t give a damn. So they decide to use elements of Majora’s Mask in other games.

The Problem:

There isn’t one, really. Any failures in a game that happens to include parts of Majora’s Mask will most likely make problems only for that game and the fans will still respect the original MM because that storyline or game won’t change.

So let’s see what Nintendo could do with Majora’s Mask without making another game about it.

Super Smash Bros – Oh boy do I love this option. I think the most likely scenario would be including Skull Kid and/or MM Link in the game. Perhaps Majora’s Wrath would be a boss character like Rayquaza. MM Link (or it would probably be “Mask Link” or “Young Link”) would have four forms similar to Zelda/Sheik and Pokémon Trainer: normal, Deku, Goron, and Zora. Each would of course have their own play style. Like Pokémon Trainer, they could somehow use only one B button to decide which form to take rather than direct all forms to a separate B button combo. His final smash would of course be to transform into Fierce Deity Link and absolutely pwn the competition. And Skull Kid’s final smash would be a moon crash that would destroy everyone. However, as a nice little touch it would go slowly, and I suppose it would be guaranteed to kill the other players unless they kill each other first over a period of about 10 seconds or something. Skull Kid’s standard B attack would trap someone under the Deku Curse similar to Yoshi’s egg hatching. He would also have the most epic taunt ever.

Utilizing a set of items similar to Masks in a Zelda game – I also love this idea, and I know it could work because they’ve already done it. There were rings in Oracle of Ages and Seasons that could harness different powers or stat increases. It doesn’t have to be masks, the ring idea could be used again no problem. Or they could do something new like bracelets (i.e. power bracelet), or just be magical spells like in the old days. Regardless of what form these items come in, the possibilities for their uses are endless. But imagine the gameplay as well. Based on your choices or your personal play preference, the dungeons in a Zelda game could be completed in multiple ways. Better yet, they could make the sequence of dungeons non-linear. What I mean by that is by starting, say, Shadow Temple first a player would acquire the Hover Boots first, then they decide to go to Water Temple and by acquiring them first the entire Water Temple dungeon would be altered to fit the items the player has in possession. The challenge would be to push the limits of the items found in the last dungeon. This way, every time someone plays the game the experience and order of dungeons would be different, adding a lot of replay value. Well how do masks/rings fit into this? They would be used in sidequesting or making other tasks easier. Or they could be utilized to find quicker routes to the end of the dungeon, or hidden rooms, or even sidequest boss fights. Now I understand an incredible amount of development, design, and programming would have to go into that but it would be truly awesome. Besides, it’s not like Nintendo is ever going to be working on a game more important than a new Legend of Zelda so why not?

Cameos of Majora’s Mask – This is actually starting to happen. Trophies in Smash Bros games, an actual mask you can buy and wear in Animal Crossing, and so forth. These are nice touches, but I still don’t think they do the justice the series needs. I wouldn’t mind them doing more of these though.

Closing thoughts:
Let me just say I’m not closed to these ideas. My reasoning behind why they shouldn’t make these new Majora’s Mask games is based in practicality and reasonable predictions as to how Nintendo would make them. Nintendo already made a game as complex, deep, and thought-provoking as the original and I just hope that somewhere in the company there is still someone who can make a game like that. All of these things could work right if they’re done right. And with caution and care. I’m just saying that the development and conceptual processes of these ideas are tightropes Nintendo would have to walk in order to make them happen. It’s just too easy to mess up on them. In terms of story, Zelda could hardly get more detailed and deep than Majora’s Mask. After all these years people are still finding new ways for this game to surprise them and make them think. And many have the dedication to play it over and over just for a chance to find something new. I mean sure, it would be neat if they made a version of it where certain aspects like losing item quantities during song of time. And it would be really nice if they made a version that didn’t have THE WORST SAVE SYSTEM KNOWN TO MAN. Like I mentioned, no game is perfect, but I think Majora’s Mask got a lot of things right that a sequel would get wrong. It’s good as it is and its fanbase loves it for what they got. And that’s enough.

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