Saturday, January 19, 2019

Majora's Mask

By: Patrick "TheLaw" Morris

Hey everybody welcome back to LegalSpeak a ColdNorth Production. I'm TheLawMorris and this is the short video essay series in which I get to talk about the games I've been playing and what I think of the video game industry as a whole. This week we are going to be talking about Majora's Mask but before we jump into all that mess I just want to remind you to check out our website for everything we do all in one spot!

Majora's Mask is the best Zelda game ever made, in fact in my opinion Majora's Mask is the best video game ever made. Now neither of these things are particularly unpopular opinions, a lot of people like Majora's Mask and there a million videos about this game on the YouTube, everyone singing it's praises because of how dark and mysterious it is. And the game is without a doubt dark but that's not what makes it good. What makes Majora's Mask so great is the story that lies beneath all the dark teenage angst, the story or a child learning to deal with loss.

Majora's Mask is one of the few direct sequels in the Zelda series and it's being juxtaposed to Ocarina of Time actually allows for a more unique take on a Zelda story. Rather than simply following the tried and true Zelda formula (please don’t think I'm ripping on the Zelda formula as the series is my all time favorite) Majora's Mask is instead able to branch out and explore with the player what happens in the immediate fallout of the events of Ocarina of Time. Every time a story ends with the hero vanquishing evil and restoring peace and tranquility to the world I'm always left wondering what happens next. Sure the war is won and nobody has to worry about the immediate threat that was previously in place but there are so many things that happen in those stories that would change the way we live our lives forever and we never see the heroes of these stories deal with those things. There is no happily ever after because the sun will rise again tomorrow and the hero will have to face the reality of the new world head on. Majora's Mask is a story all about what happens when that new world comes packing some harsh truths.

A popular theory amongst fans is that throughout the entirety of Majora's Mask Link is dead and Termina is some interpretation of purgatory. Now while I don’t personally subscribe to the theory that Link is dead I do believe that nothing the player does in the game actually happens. The entire story takes place in Link's mind. Now I cannot be clear enough about this, I did not come up with this theory and I in no way think that I am the one that came up with this but I do believe that the events of the game are representative of Link moving through the five stages of grief. Link isn't dead, he's grieving.

At the close of Ocarina of Time Navi tells Link that she has to go and flies away. Majora's Mask opens on Link riding Epona deeper and deeper into the lost woods despite Link's knowing that the dangers involved with venturing further into the lost woods he feels compelled to search for his friend. At the very outset of the game Link is knocked out by a skullkid at which point the audience crosses from reality into a figment of Link's imagination.

Each of the five main areas of the game thematically represent one of the five stages of grief and Link moves through them not only in the order in which people are supposed to but also minor relapses and loss of progress is emulated throughout the game as the game forces the player to venture back to previous areas to collect additional items and side quests for masks. As well as physical travel the game forces the player to experience setbacks in their road to recovery by making them play the song of time to return to dawn of the first day in order to have enough time to complete all the dungeons and quests in the game. In a way the game teaches players that nothing can ever be accomplished without some sort of setback whether it be circumstantial or of our own creation.

After a hallucination of deku scrubs Link finds himself in a clock tower and emerges in the midst of the hustle and bustle that is Clock Town. All the people of Clock Town are rushing about preparing for the annual festival that is set to begin in three days and none can be bothered to acknowledge the threat that is literally looming over head. The moon is growing larger in the sky as it approaches and will undoubtedly be crashing directly into Clock Town killing them all in just a few days time. This apocalypse that hangs in the balance grows ever closer and yet no one seems to notice and when pointed out all they can do is wave it off as nothing to be concerned about. The people of Clock Town are in denial.

After leaving Clock Town Link's first stop along his journey is the temple in the center of Woodfall. Upon his arrival Link sees a monkey that has been met with extreme hostility and is told that the monkey has kidnapped their princess. The monkey then speaks to Link privately and informs him that he has no idea what they are talking about but the deku scrubs of Woodfall simply need someone to blame. The deku scrubs of Woodfall are anger.

Beyond Woodfall is Snowhead. Upon arriving in Snowhead Link find the Goron's frozen and sequestered from their way of life. The Goron Elder's Son wont stop crying and the general mood of the room oozes discomfort. Speaking to each Goron the player can hear their desperation for their lives to return to how they once were and for things to simply get back to normal. The Goron's are willing to do anything just to have their old lives back and when Link arrives they see a glimmer of hope and immediately try to latch onto that. The Goron's are bargaining.

Next in journey the game takes the player to Great Bay. As soon as the player arrives at Great Bay a cut scene plays in which Link witnesses the death of an unknown Zora. Shortly thereafter Link learns that the Zora was a beloved member of the community, a talented musician, and a loving soon to be father. Not only is the entire community especially the Zora band left not knowing what to do after this tragedy happened so shortly before their performance at the festival but Lulu has lost her voice and is sent spiraling into a deeper depression as she copes with the overwhelming loss she has endured. The Zoras are depression.

And finally the last major area in the game is objectively the most bleak and dreary of the all, Ikana Valley. A dry desert climate that is not hospitable to almost any forms of life and is therefore populated almost exclusively by the undead Gibdo. Amongst all the dead and desolation of Ikana Valley however lives the young girl Pamela and her father, the two happiest people the player meets in the entire game. They live in what is undoubtedly the worst most depressing place in all of Termina but they have come to accept what they have and embrace the fact that they have each other and value that above all else. Their lives leave a lot to be desired but they are happy. Pamela and her father are acceptance.

Majora's Mask takes the mask's, a small side quest mechanic rarely necessary for the main story in Ocarina of Time, and builds an entire game around it. Throughout the game Link obtains and wears different masks to achieve different goals but none of them help him run from what has happened. Each mask is representative of a childs fear of the unknown and the physical manifestation of Link literally trying to hide from reality. The transformation masks take this one step further and represent Link trying to literally become someone he's not in order to not have to face the fact that his friend is gone. Of all the masks in the game the only one that Link can wear that makes him his best self is the Fierce Deity Mask that is a representation of his potential. Of the 24 masks in the game Link is at his most powerful when he embraces who he is and how the events of his life have changed him, when Link wears a mask of his best self is when he can finally overcome his fear.

The story of Majora's mask is dark yes but more importantly it's deep. The story revolves around a child learning to cope with loss and press forward regardless, a child that screams out in pain as he tries to force himself to be someone he's not for just a few moments of relief while he can pretend that his problems have all washed away. What Majora's Mask is to me is the internal struggle with overcoming our own mental illness' and making ourselves better for them. Majora's Mask is beautiful to me and even as game's change and become more advanced it will always be applicable to someone who is struggling.

What are your thoughts on Majora's Mask? Let me know in the comments down below.

If you liked what you heard don’t forget to subscribe and check out our video game podcast HardReset for more free form video game discussion and our movies podcast NoRefunds the podcast that watches bad movies so you don’t have to! You can find those on most major podcast services and right here on YouTube. If you don’t want to scrounge around for our content you can find everything we do all in one spot over at Connor Lockett next week is for you, I'll be back talking about my thoughts on Detroit: Become Human. Until then just go play some games.

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