Tag Archives: majora’s mask

FGC #404 The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask

Let’s talk about limits, phobias, and easy mode.

Limits are important. The old yarn about videogames is that, thanks to the virtual unreality of the digital world, you can do anything in a videogame. And anyone that has actually played a videogame knows that that is bull hockey. Super Mario Bros. is an amazing game, but can you do anything in the Mushroom Kingdom? Heck no. Mario might be able to jump higher than any basketball star, but he still has a limit, and cannot, say, jump straight to the goal flag right from his first bound. Mario is very limited in his movements, but, if you notice the world around him, you will see that his entire universe was designed exclusively for these limits. There is no jump that Mario needs to make that he cannot clear. There is no villain that he must destroy that does not have a weakness. And, since Mario is limited to only running and jumping (and not, say, negotiating with wandering turtle hordes), there is no problem that cannot be solved with that moveset. Mario is limited. Videogames are limited; but that is why they are “games”. A game with no limits and no rules is just a playset, and, given the dismal sales of Endless Ocean, games are exactly what gamers want.

But the best videogame limits are the ones that are completely invisible. Mario isn’t limited by his jumps, he’s super! You can do anything in Grand Theft Auto… except maybe go inside a building. The latest WRPG has incredible freedom and insane realism, though maybe your hero can’t hop over a waist-high fence. But all of these limits are there for a reason, because without them, there would be no game at all (or, in some of the “open world” cases, because otherwise the title require three decades to actually be released). Limits are what make videogames fun, and if they weren’t there, it would be bedlam every time C.J. jumped all the way to a moon nobody ever got around to modeling.

Unfortunately, not all limits can be invisible.

CreepyLink is one of your more limited heroes in your typical Legend of Zelda title (though maybe not in at least one recent entry). He can’t jump (except when absolutely necessary). His traditional offensive options are generally sparse (the sword is a mainstay, but have you ever really tried to take out a Helmasaur with bombs or hammers? They both suck). And, even when Hyrule has been expanded to Switchian levels of size, it’s still a fairly narrow chunk of geography. Mario often vacations in the far off corners of the galaxy, but the best Link can hope for is a quick jaunt to a flying whale’s dreamscape. Or, like in this entry, a visit to Hyrule’s next kingdom over, Termina, where a crash landing moon is going to abolish all life in the immediate area. And all Link can do, as ever, is run around like a cucco and hope that talking to everybody saves the day. Oh, and there’s a time limit now, too. It’s there, and you’re reminded of it every few moments. Actually, that time limit is integral to the entire experience, so you’re more likely to be reminded of it every second.

And, like so many limits in videogames, this is technically a good thing. For possibly the first time in a Zelda title, there is some genuine suspense. The end of the world is coming, and if you don’t do anything, you’re going to be toast in 5… 4… 3… 2… 1. That moon is always there, looming, stalking your every move. You have to complete this dungeon in a timely manner, or everyone is going to die. If you don’t rescue that monkey, if you don’t find the right route through the canyon, if you don’t listen to goddamn Tingle, that moon is going to come crashing down, and it’s over, “Hero of Time”. Or maybe you choose to believe that there is no danger. Maybe you aren’t saving the world from a horror-moon, and you’re working hard because you want to see how much you can complete in a “cycle”. After all, the real world isn’t in jeopardy, and a dead Link doesn’t really mean anything. It’s all about getting what you can get done in your time limit, and, if you have to reset the three day cycle all over again, that’s just the price of “wasting” time. You lose some progress, and that sucks, but it happens.

And that’s the scariest idea of all.

Going for a dipI genuinely believe videogames are art. I also genuinely believe videogames are wastes of time. But in the most literal sense! Videogames are amazing and fun, but the chief way a videogame will punish a player is through wasting time. What is the number one result of “losing a life” in practically any game? It’s a loss of time through having to repeat a section. In other cases, you may instantly respawn, but you also work up to a “continue”, and the threat is that you are one step closer to losing progress. Dying, but with extra steps. Some RPGs have adopted the method of letting you keep your story progress, but you lose gold, equipment, or experience… so you’ve just lost a different kind of progress. And what’s worse? Losing a life and having to respawn somewhere “further back”, or a game where your “life” is captured, and you have to search all over the place to rediscover your lost comrade? That might be up to personal preference, as the end result is the same in both cases: lost time. You could have beaten the final boss by now if you didn’t waste so much time on all those deaths, right? Heard it all before…

So, suffice it to say, by Majora’s Mask’s release in 2000, after a solid decade of gaming like a maniac, the idea of “death = lost time” was already drilled straight into my noggin. Losing time was the enemy, and a game where the hook was that time was constantly against you, and not knowing what you were doing at all times could lead to more lost time… The concept scared me. Hell, I was downright frightened by the idea that I could fill my wallet with rupees, gain every last magical item, and then lose it all because I dawdled too long in a swamp shooting gallery. It didn’t help that this was also the second 3-D Zelda, and the concept of proper camera control was still in its infancy. I’m supposed to find five random kids around town? In only three days? How am I supposed to pull that off when I can barely see around corners? I was never good at finding random skulltulas, so I was already pretty screwed if this game expected me to find hidden children and masks within a time limit. I knew my skills, I knew my limits, and I knew that there was no way I could have ever saved Termina back in 2000. I had so little time as it was, I wasn’t going to waste it on a game that was built around wasting even more time.

So thank Miyamoto for The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D.

Poor LinkIn a lot of ways, Majora’s Mask 3D is an entirely different game. The all-important bosses have been dramatically altered, swimming is an entirely different ball of beavers, and, most importantly, a “save anywhere” feature has been added. This is a game changer, literally, as it means that the game’s saves are no longer tied to losing all progress within a cycle. One of those “frightening” features from the original release has just flown straight out the window. Even better, the presence of constant saving means that some of the more… fiendish minigames can now be savescummed. Not saying I’m a cheater (okay, I absolutely am), but knowing that I won’t lose all my progress to a damn deku scrub minigame goes a long way to putting my mind at ease. And those dungeons lose their bite when a puzzle can be solved over the course of a half hour, and then “reset” so the game only thinks Link only spent thirty seconds on that block pushing. Avoiding lost progress is easy!

And that’s just it: The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D is Majora’s Mask Easy Mode.

And… I think that’s the only way I want to play the game.

Beat itI never completed Majora’s Mask on the N64. In fact, I only really got into playing it at all on the Gamecube Zelda compilation, and, even then, I barely cleared the first palace. It was just too stressful, and that looming threat of losing progress, that unflinching limit, scared me off. I could contentedly sail the seas with Pirate Link, or I could suffer under the gaze of an ever-judging moon. That was no choice at all! But the 3DS version was different, because I could go at my own pace, and I didn’t have to live in fear of an oppressive limit on my play time. I suppose the limit was always there, as that moon certainly hadn’t gone away, but it was so much less oppressive. And “less oppressive” always translates to “more fun”. It may have been easy mode, but without that easy mode, I never would have experienced this entertaining, quirky Zelda title.

So what’s the moral of this experience? It’s not that limits are inherently bad, and it’s certainly not that you should live in fear of arbitrary challenges. No, I suppose our moral today is that sometimes the best way to enjoy a game is suck it up, admit you’re a weenie, and go ahead and play it on easy mode. Don’t limit your experiences by arbitrary skill echelons, and just have fun the way you want to have fun.

You’re allowed to be afraid, but don’t be afraid of easy mode.

FGC #404 The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask

  • System: N64 (but only with an expansion pack), and then again on every Nintendo console since. Well, not Switch, but give it a hot minute, I’m sure it will get there. The latest version (with vast improvements) is available on the 3DS.
  • Number of players: This ain’t Mask of Four Swords, buddy.
  • Other Majora Issues: I also may have avoided playing Majora’s Mask initially because it is creepy as all get out. It’s not even that Resident Evil kind of deliberate creepy. It’s more like everything is just… wrong, and Link is trying to save a world that shouldn’t even be in the first place. And I’m still fairly convinced that this all happened because that’s a natural reaction to looking at Ocarina of Time character models.
  • These guysFavorite Character: Everybody wants to talk about Anju and That Kid, but the greatest, saddest love story in Majora’s Mask is the tale of Mikau and Lulu, the Zora lovers. No matter how much Link can control time, Mikau is always going to wind up seagull bait, and Lulu is always going to be stuck talking to a young boy that is wearing her lover’s death mask as a magical prop. Man, this is a weird game.
  • Favorite Mask: There are so many options! Fierce Deity and Lovers are great choices because they’re so insanely difficult to obtain, but that would ignore all the great dumb ones, like blow-yourself-up-all-the-time mask. And the bunny hood was so good, it infiltrated other games! But my pick goes to the Stone Mask, because the idea that it makes Link so plain, he is virtually invisible is fun and biting social satire. It’s perfect!
  • Did you know? This was the first place we had a Tingle breakout. It was mostly contained to balloons and map making, and the little bastard wasn’t too much of a drain on resources, but it seems the infection was destined to grow in later years. As of this writing, he has been mostly relegated to spin-offs, but vigilance is always necessary.
  • Would I play again: The 3DS version? Yes, absolutely. The original N64 title? No, I don’t think that’s going to happen.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… to air the Duck Dynasty for Xbox 360 stream from last Friday night! If you missed it live, it’s new to you! Please look forward to it!

What is even happening!?

Year in Review: 2015

I’m making a list!

Disappointment of the Year (that I actually played): Batman: Arkham Knight

I am the nightBatman: Arkham Knight is not a bad game. It’s basically Batman: Arkham City, but with a car… and that’s the problem.

See, I played Batman: Arkham City until my Playstation 3 demanded something new to read. I found every last trophy, solved every confounded riddle, and transformed the criminal underworld of Gotham into some kind of jelly substance. I flew around that city for what seemed like days on end, taking any excuse to play just a few moments more or swoop and tumble across the entire skyline again.

Batman: Arkham Knight introduced the Batmobile, which seems like something that could only add fun to the universe, but, nope, it sucks, and I literally never want to see it again. I mean, I can see why it could be fun, it’s not, like, a game of Deadly Towers every time you hop in the vehicle, but it’s the same thing every car mission (well, one of two things, a race, or a tank face-off), and there isn’t enough variety in techniques or gameplay between Batmobile events to justify the hundreds of times Bruce has to use that… that thing.

VroomSo, after I completed the main campaign of the game, I checked a FAQ to see roughly how many times I’d have to use the Batmobile again to 100% the game. The answer… didn’t thrill me. I put the game away, and haven’t touched it again since.

A real shame the game couldn’t be as fun as its older brother. It’s the Jason Todd of the Batman video game family.

Disappointment of the Year (that I played for a half hour): Animal Crossing Amiibo Festival

I have been told by reliable sources that this game improves as more complicated modes are unlocked, but I played this game straight out of the box with some friends, and, geez, Lawn Mowing Simulator 2015 might have been less boring. For a game that has to share a system and peripheral gimmick with Super Smash Bros. 4, you’d think this one would be just a teensy bit more enjoyable, but, nope, random, boring nonsense all around.

Worst of all, it will likely never see my WiiU again, but I’ll still buy all the stupid Amiibos for this game. Damn Resetti…

Reason to not let me out of the house for the Year: Amiibo

Gaze ye upon my OCD and despair!

2015 Completion

Compilation of the Year: Mega Man Legacy Collection

This category only exists because Rare Replay was a contender, but those Micro Mega Challenges are much better when the Blue Bomber is involved. If I’m being honest, Mega Man Legacy Collection was always going to be a winner, because I will take any excuse to play a Mega Man game. Unlike nearly every Mega Man collection previously released (and there’s practically been one for every console generation), this one is flawless, so no weird controller mapping or graphical “upgrades” to ruin the experience of dropping Dr. Wily. And it’s all available on “new” systems like the Playstation 4, so I’ll be able to flip over to a quick game of Mega Man 3 whenever I want for the next few years.

Honestly, if Shovel Knight (and his frenemy Plague Knight) didn’t partially steal the little metal boy’s thunder, this might have been my game of the year.

But it did inspire a nursery rhyme.

Remake of the Year: The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D

I realize this is sacrilege in some places, but I’m going to say it: I don’t really like Majora’s Mask. I realize that, objectively, Majora’s Mask is a good game, and the innovations it made for the Zelda franchise and all of gaming should be recognized and applauded; but on a subjective level, I can’t stand to play the dang thing. I have a natural OCD Ugly ol' Moonabout video games, and the fact that I can’t save at any time to avert mistakes, or that I have to complete a dungeon all in one try while collecting every last fairy… it drives me insane. Couple this with ancient, blurry N64 graphics and 90 masks to use and only three buttons to use them, and I quickly grow frustrated and roll over to greener pastures.

The 3DS remake, right off the bat, corrects my biggest issue, and now I can save with impunity anytime, anywhere. No, I don’t use it to savescum all day long, but the mere fact that I can puts my mind at ease in a way that’s hard to describe. Then you’ve got the bottom screen inventory that allows for quick mask switching, updated graphics that allow for a draw distance greater than the length of Link’s sword, and various other “quality of life” improvements, and one of my most loathed Zelda games suddenly becomes my favorite.

Way to go, The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D, now I can enjoy this game with everybody else.

Title of the Year: Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late

pure chaosI played all the way through that fighting game filled with forgettable characters (barring anyone from Melty Blood), and I still have no idea what that title is supposed to mean. I’m not certain a single one of those words belongs anywhere near the others. All told, though, I am looking forward to the sequel, Over Day Outside Death DMG:Early.

System of the Year: WiiU

If I was twelve and had the same taste in video games, the WiiU would be my nirvana. Nerdvana.

I am, at this point in my life, a hopeless maniac that buys new video games at the drop of the hat, whether they are digital or physical, because I’m desperately addicted to whatever endorphins get released when I “unwrap” a new game. As a result, I have a backlog that’s simply absurd, and I’ll be lucky if my grandkids ever make it through my PS2 collection alone.

That said, I still remember being a kid (say, pre-16 or so) when I only received a new video game for holidays, and that was about it. Granted, I could probably milk my different family members for a new game each, but past about April, I likely wouldn’t see a new ‘un again until Christmas. This is likely why I gravitated toward JRPGs and their hours and hours of gameplay, A moment in timeand why I initially rebuked games like Donkey Kong Country that would present the final boss inside of an afternoon.

But if I had a WiiU back then? Oh boy.

Mind you, DLC practically didn’t exist when I was a child, nor Amiibos, so I don’t know where they’d fall in the whole “no more games for months” spectrum, but assuming I was allowed a digital wallet, the WiiU’s library would have been pretty amazing for getting the most bang out of any given game’s buck.

Within this year…

  • Hyrule Warriors gained new maps and characters and Amiibo support, granting multiple reasons to return to an already huge game. The last map was released in, I believe, February, but the Ganondorf Amiibo didn’t hit stateside until September.
  • Mario Kart 8 saw new track releases in April, and its last compatible Amiibo, Olimar, was released in September.
  • Super Smash Bros 4 received DLC characters and stages all year, and will continue into 2016. Practically every (over fifty?) Amiibo released was an excuse to fire this one back up again.
  • Splatoon didn’t even require a dime for its myriad of updates, apparently still going into 2016 as well. Combine this with random Splatfests, and it’s hard not to pop that one in every week to see what’s “happening”. Gotta stay fresh.
  • Mario Maker offers infinite content, and has specifically been releasing Nintendo approved courses every week with fun new prizes.

Even though some of these games were released in 2014, there seemed to always be a reason to return to “completed” games for new and exciting content (or at least a neat costume). Compare this to some of the “big” releases of 2016 on other systems that begged you to purchase a “season pass” for maybe one new map or a handful of new characters, and you can see why I find the WiiU’s offerings so endearing.

Game of the Year: Super Mario Maker

WinnerReally, from the Nintendo World Championships on, there was no way this wasn’t going to be the victor.

Despite cursing reams of paper over the years with my own Mario level creations (and a host of unique Mario powerups best never mentioned), I was initially tepid on the concept of Mario Maker. After all, Wario Ware DIY seemed like a wonderful idea back when I purchased the game, but then I learned that I’m an adult now, and simply don’t have the time to create my own fun. Like, I’d love to sit down and design the “perfect” Wario Ware game… but I’ve got so many other things to organize, create, and vacuum… and then it’s six months later and I haven’t done a thing past the tutorial. My time is precious, and when I want to play a video game, I want to play a video game, not tax myself in pursuit of some impossibly perfect creation.

But then came the Nintendo World Championships, which I decided to watch on Youtube for no greater reason than a general boredom on a Saturday night. And there, months before the game’s release, it clicked. Yes, creating Mario courses of my own would be fun, but even more fun would be the host of Nintendo created stages, and, eventually, stages created by people who also knew what they were doing, and then, finally, there would be infinity Mario levels.

So, yes, I’ve created a number of Mario stages, and I don’t think they’re that great, just fun little obstacle courses. But that’s not what has held my attention these past few months; no, what keeps me coming back are all the amazing levels created by people so BARFmuch more innovative and imaginative than myself. I can now fly through advanced levels that require perfect Mario-manship, or saunter through a stage or two with odd, inspired mechanics (like a goomba that releases traps), or new and interesting spins on encroaching buzzsaws. And there’s something new every day, which is perfect for a play session that is ten minutes or ten hours.

There’s a reason I’ve unlocked all those amiibo costumes… and am still begging for more.

Games I’m sure are great, but I haven’t played: Xenoblade Chronicles X, Undertale

Look, I’ve been playing a lot of Xenosaga recently, and I don’t want to get entrenched in another Xeno game before that project is completed. I realize it may be a while, but I don’t want to confuse my chaos’s with my Emma’s, as that could only lead to disaster.

As for Undertale, this is literally the game that, this past December, I picked up a dedicated “gaming PC” to play. I figured that, if I’m going to write about video games, I may as well actually play some of those “third column” PC games, and Undertale seems like a wonderful start. All that said, I’m set up, the game is in my library, but I still haven’t had time to actually sit down and play the dang thing… but soon!

Gogglebob.com Introspection 2015

2015 is the year I started this site. I’ve given a thousand “reasons” that I started this thing over the last year, almost all of them valid, but it boils down to the fact that I wanted to do something Because it's 2015!“creative” with my favorite hobby, and, like a hundred posts later (combining FGC, Kingdom Hearts, and Xenosaga posts), I’m kind of amazed I haven’t lost interest or started loathing the project yet. Maybe it’s the random nature of the FGC, but I actually look forward to Random ROB’s choices, and, like with next week’s Zool 2, I enjoy the challenge of “now how am I going to get a story out of this turd?” I like writing about the games that I enjoy because I enjoy those games and want to share the experience with others (see the entire Gaming 5 series of these past weeks), and I enjoy writing about games I don’t enjoy because they offer a creative challenge to transform into an article. Famous last words, I know, but I keep waiting for this to stop being fun, and it hasn’t happened yet.

Related, it was towards the end of 2015 that I started the Xenosaga Let’s Play, and I’m downright astonished at how much I’m enjoying that project. Like, seriously, I thought it would be grueling, but it’s like I’m playing the game in an entirely different way, and, while it’s not like you are watching me play the game as I’m actually playing it, I’m playing the game with the LP in mind every step of the way, and it’s led to some of my favorite video game writing I’ve ever produced. I like me creating a Let’s Play.

All that said, here’s some favorite articles from 2015:

Christ, I’ve got five and I’m not even halfway through the list? Leave your favorite articles in the comments, I’m turning in for the day before my ego gets any bigger.

What’s Next? Random ROB chose Zool 2 a couple weeks back, so I’ll finally tackle that Atari Jaguar “Classic”. Please look forward to it!