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The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask is a groundbreaking game with incredible storytelling and characters. Move over Netflix's Bandersnatch, Nintendo was doing multiple timelines and interactive storytelling decades ago. Majora is definitely one of the most emotional Zelda games out there. There’s this constant feeling of impending doom, and a real sense of urgency. You have to succeed. You have to do everything perfect, because if you don’t, people will die. But I think that’s why I don’t really like the game.
I don’t want to do everything perfect. I want to spend time exploring the world and discovering things. If I wanted to try the same thing over and over again, until I got it perfect, I would play a Mario game. Which is why the Legend of Zelda series was always more appealing to me.
Post-Breath of the Wild, I kind of find it hard to go back to a lot of older Zelda games. To me, Breath of the Wild feels like such a perfect execution of Miyamoto’s original vision for the series. It’s as epic and expansive as we imagined Zelda for the NES could be. There’s no wrong way to play BotW, which is so exciting to me. Want to go fight the final boss right away? You can! Want to explore every inch of the map first? You can do that, too. Curious about the storyline? Take some pictures. Don’t care about that? Here’s Link in a dress. There’s so many things to do, and so many ways to do them, that any player can get something out of the game.
So, when I finally got around to playing Majora’s Mask after BotW, I just kind of... lost interest. There’s a lot of doing things in a specific order, or at specific times. You can't even leave Clock Town until after you've lived through all three days for the first time. It just felt really restrictive to me.
I think that there’s a bit of an overhype factor for me as well. I didn’t grow up with the N64, so I never played Majora as a kid. But I always heard about how it was one of the best Zelda games, making it to the top of many people’s lists. So I was super hyped when it came out on the 3DS and I finally got a chance to play it. But it didn’t quite connect with me the way that I know it does with others. I get super envious of PeanutButterGamer whenever he talks about Majora, because I wish I could have had the same experience that he has with it. But I just... don’t.
I really liked the 3DS remake of Ocarina and I had a great time with that game. So why wasn’t I feeling the same way about Majora? Maybe it’s the story. I love Star Wars and Lord of the Rings, and I tend to connect more with the hero’s journey structure of Ocarina. I like stories about regular guys who get put into extraordinary circumstances and get to be the hero. But in Majora, the game's not even about Link. It's about all the other people that live in Termina, and their ability to come to grips with their own mortality. Which is an interesting story, but not one that I personally connect with.
I’ve heard some fans say, “Oh, you have to do all the side quests and get all the masks to get the full experience.” But I don’t really like playing like that. I like doing some side-quests in Zelda games. But I rarely do all of them.
I’m also not very good at games. So when I’m relying on guides to figure out what I’m supposed to do, so that I can get “the full experience,” I just find myself not having any fun. I don't like the pressure of doing things perfectly and I prefer to figure things out on my own. This is coming from a guy who drew his own map for Zelda on NES because the thought of exploring was more interesting to me than knowing where to go.
Don’t get me wrong, I think Majora is a very well-made game and I like a lot of things about it. I like how the game had to recycle assets from Ocarina, giving it a dreamlike quality. I like that they took huge risks with this game and it’s three-day cycle mechanic, forcing the player to get to know everyone in Termina that will die if the player fails. I like the masks and how they each give you different abilities, which is a fun twist on the item system.
But I don’t really like playing the game. And that just comes down to the types of games I like to play—and the ways I like to play them. Majora's Mask did something very different than the other Zelda games, which isn't necessarily bad, just something that I didn't enjoy. I don’t want to be stressed while I'm playing video games. I want to have fun.
Now, I’ve heard the 3DS remake makes some changes to the game, and is often considered to be inferior to the original. So, if I ever get the chance to play the N64 version, maybe my opinions will change. But as of right now, not a fan.