This week, Zero Punctuation reviews The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D.
I review new releases, and I occasionally do retro reviews, 'cause it's nice to call on a spanking MILF now and again when you get sick of waiting for her overpriced daughter to download the latest handjob update. But these two responsibilities have been overlapping a lot lately, with the current crop of remasterings and mother-daughter threesomes always sound fun in theory, but I find they very easily turn weird. This week's subject is Zelda: Majora's Mask on 3DS, a natural secondary heave for Nintendo to make after the initial chunder that was Ocarina of Time 3D. And as in that case, I've never played it before. I knew it by reputation, of course. When the Nintendo fanboys come at me for saying that Zelda games are samey and toothless and I'm forced to smash their heads in with a piece of bent rebar, the words "Majora's Mask" always seem to be written on the piece of paper they have instead of a brain. I did know it had some kind of time loop mechanic that's supposed to be good, but I find it hard to believe that Nintendo came up with a good game mechanic that they have not since milked to oblivion. But I was pleasantly surprised by Majora's Mask.
How a Zelda game usually works is that evil threatens the land in some unspecific manner, and then Link shows up all predestined-hero-like, and the gods shower him with equipment and praise and ear massages, and he saves the people and resolves conflict everywhere he goes until his feet don't touch the ground and the sun shines out of his sexless pee-hole. Meanwhile, Majora's Mask starts by taking that noble destined hero, flush with triumph from Ocarina of Time, and kicking his fucking teeth in. A mischievous entity referred to as "Skull Kid" nicks Link's horse, turns him into a novelty bong and gigglingly teabags his nose-hole for a few minutes before running off to make the moon smash into a sleepy carnival town, successfully murdering the world. See, Ganondorf, this guy isn't even the cosmic predestined all-powerful master of evil, and he did a better job than you've ever done. He said, "I want to murder the world", moon, smash, BAM. None of this swanning about on top of a castle waiting for the hero to show up so he can try out his new sneer. But as we all know, the gods of Hyrule are nothing if not cheating motherfuckers, and so Link is empowered to repeat the three days leading up to the disaster until he can jolly well pull his socks up, de-novelty-bong himself and sort shit out.
And I found this all rather appealingly cynical. I did the usual thing that I do and gave Link a facetious name for my own bitter amusement, in this case, "Useless", and this proved unintentionally kind of apropos. 'Cause while you do get to transfer your tools and songs from one time loop to the next, and your money if you remember to give it to the weird bloke who plops up and down like a circus seal in a headlock, everything you've achieved gets undone. So you do the usual Zelda thing and travel from land to land righting wrongs usually in the form of a dungeon boss who was leaning on a big lever with, "Make surrounding area shitty" written on it, so everything un-shitties after they die. But the situations don't stay un-shittied when you revert back to the start of the time loop, and all you can do then is leave them to rot. I only un-shittied the Goron lands a second time so I could win the races and get the sword upgrade, a rather mercenary attitude for a destined hero.
I hate when Zelda games try to characterize Link (aka "Useless", aka "Snothat"), 'cause as we all know by now, with the exception of Wind Waker Link, he has no personality. He'd be played in the film by Orlando Bloom. I particularly hate when female characters have the hots for him. I don't know what the fuck signals these women think they're getting from him, 'cause he's got the expression of an untuned TV set. That's still the case in Majora's Mask, but it takes probably the best approach possible for an uncharacterized main character - everyone barely registers his presence. They don't expect him to save the world, and many don't seem to realize it needs saving at all. He disguises himself as a Goron and a Zora at various times when he's saving their respective lands, and so his actions get attributed to whoever he's disguised as. Link himself ghosts through life invisible, a permanent outsider wearing whatever face he needs to gain trust so he can steal everyone's shit without even permanently fixing their lives. It's like Quantum Leap for bastards.
So Majora's Mask appeals to me from a philosophical standpoint. But the gameplay has its niggles. Zelda games can't seem to get the hang of this whole "targeting" thing, can they? "Please focus on the massive monster that is the only feature of this entire fucking room before it knocks me on my ass", doesn't seem like that unreasonable a request, but the game would disagree. Also, Majora's Mask dates back to before the era of creepy handholding, and so the way forward can be rather obscure. I don't mind having to intuit a few things, but I don't know how it makes any kind of sense that I can't access the Eastern lands until I put on the mask of a dead ninja warrior, which is, for some reason, in the possession of two flamboyant German porn stars who run the race track. And the time loop mechanic brings its own annoyances, such as having to sit through a character's introduction for the fifth time when you just want to buy a map without having to watch various wobbly bits flop around in a green leotard like they're trying, understandably, to escape. I eventually became paranoid about starting anything if it wasn't still morning on the first day. The number of times I'd be most of the way through a dungeon or collected five of the seven sacred monkey bollocks, only for the moon to go, "'Ere, you looking at my bird?", and headbutt the planet Glaswegian-style, sending me back to start all over again.
But I suppose that's part of the fun - it's the whole point, really. You're not special any more, Useless. The villain's not going to be moments away from enacting their master plan for the next seven hours while they obligingly wait for you to hoover up gold skulltulas. It's not terribly big for a Zelda game, and the ending can't help being an anticlimax - the moon goes away, life goes on, and no-one seems to give a shit - but it's intriguing nonetheless. It's almost a metaphor for the futility of existence. You can work your sexy little elf boy gams off trying to make a difference, but in the end, none of it matters, because chaos, represented by a prancing nonce with a diseased pineapple for a face, will make it all for naught in the end. Or maybe I'm reading too much into things and it's just a cautionary tale about buying the right size green leotard.
- Still never doing Kingdom Hearts: Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw
- Life would be so much simpler if all natural disasters had angry faces on them
- Some pun relating to riding "Bear" back