I have to play The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask again, I really do. Just over the past several months, this game has popped up several times among the blogs I frequent, such as:
The more I read about other people’s experience with MM, the more I wonder…did we play the same game??
With that question, I’m not questioning the game itself. At the time, having only previously played Ocarina of Time, my knowledge of the Zelda universe was still quite slim. As with OoT, I had some trouble keeping up with the story, but it played with all the ease, nuances, and highly enjoyable nature of the previous title. No, what I question are my own memories of Majora’s Mask.
I don’t want to dwell too much on things I’ve said before, my video game past has ebbed and flowed, ’nuff said. I know I’ve played MM – reading its stories, listening to its music, watching its videos – they all reside very firmly in mind. I remember very clearly having the game. I remember the Skull Kid and Link’s strange transformation. And I remember being confused and dazzled by the darkness, the purple atmosphere, and that crazy moon. MM was a wonderful and absolute turnabout from Ocarina of Time, and I know I enjoyed it. But I don’t remember how I enjoyed it. I don’t remember it leaving any lasting impressions of which others speak. I don’t remember being anything other than a video game that I played. I don’t have any funny stories like, “This one time I was playing Majora’s Mask and…haha!” And I don’t have for it any mountaintop praises or hellish curses to expound. When I started thinking about writing a post about MM, I thought about approaching it from a review standpoint, but what in the world would I say? Surely not much more than something one couldn’t get from a Wikipedia article. Instead, what I’m here left with something that builds off that first question of “did we play the same game?” in “why doesn’t a game as highly touted as Majora’s Mask stand out in my memories?” To answer that, I have to do a little circuitous exploration into the past. Sorry.
Majora’s Mask was released in 2000, but I’m pretty sure I didn’t get to the title until at least a couple years later. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, I was focused on lots of things that didn’t involve video games – Y2K, my job, my friends, being stupid, and indulging in excesses of one sort or another, and then, at the flip of a switch, grad school. My video game time was spent with a small cache of regular-favorites-turned-obsessions: Super Mario 64 (still), Ocarina of Time (still), Banjo-Kazooie and -Tooie, Paper Mario, and Conker’s Bad Fur Day.
Majora’s Mask was only nominally on my radar; and though I remember reading and listening to many a glowing review for it, the one word that everyone seemed to associated with MM was odd. MM was an odd but fun entry in the Zelda games. MM had a great but odd plot that sat in deep contrast to previous titles. MM had an odd atmosphere that might not appeal to some gamers. From then on, I couldn’t help but think of MM and odd in the same context. Did I really want to check out this anomaly of a game? Apparently I didn’t, at least not upon its release. So it took me several years to come round to the idea of playing it. But by then, I had started grad school, for which me, my significant other, and our unwilling feline, moved across the country. I remember buying the game shortly after we had settled into our new quarters; and I remember it sitting around for what seemed like ages before I actually popped it in the ol’ N64. But I was busy…really, really, really busy…like, in a bad way. Between school, work, and the extra work involved in school, I simply didn’t have time to game (or maintain much of a life, for that matter). I remember carving out the most time for Kingdom Hearts; and I remember being very distracted by a friend’s shiny, new beast of an Xbox. It was just so new and so big and so pretty compared to my small, teeny, ancient Nintendo 64!
So Majora’s Mask, when it’s time came, was a distraction more than anything. This strange tale of Deku Link in Termina, the songs and the 3-day cycle, the dark and sometimes, yes, odd story, provided me with a chance to escape. I probably could have played any other game at the time with the same results – my video game time then was not about the games, it was just about having the time to do something, anything, other than work and school. If you could see the sad and dejected look on my face right now, you’d know that it probably wasn’t a very happy time. And it wasn’t. But that’s the way things go sometimes. And maybe that’s why, nearly two years into this blogging venture, I’m only now writing about this game. Huh.
Man, futzing about with memories can get so unruly sometimes. Recollections of Play – come for the games, stay for the pseudo-psychoanalysis! Jeez-a-loo…
Last week I talked about “hibernating” this winter with a good Mario game. But maybe I should take that path with Majora’s Mask. I’m much happier now, more stable, of a much more sound mind (I think). Maybe I’ll finally understand it, or at least understand better it’s outspoken supporters. While my heart continues to scream MAJORA’S MASK IS GREAT!!, my mind just can’t quite comes to terms. Stupid mind. Maybe I just need to quit thinking so damn much…