The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask didn’t receive a particularly warm welcome upon its release — not by Zelda standards at least. It was difficult, its “Groundhog Day” style time traveling save system was confusing, and well, often the game was just plain weird. That said, once you broke through it’s gnarled exterior there was plenty of gooey delicious Zelda-ey goodness inside, and in the decade-or-so since its release it’s accumulated a dedicated cult of defenders. Recently Majora’s Mask fans even launched “Operation Moonfall”, an attempt to convince Nintendo to follow their 3DS remake of Ocarina of Time with a similar remake of Majora’s Mask.
Well Nintendo hasn’t announced a remake yet, but there’s still good reason for Majora’s Mask fans to be happy. Nintendo recently released The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, a game they promised would do things differently. Shake up the Zelda formula if you will. Well I’ve been playing the game and it turns out Nintendo’s definition of “doing things differently” pretty much means “doing things like Majora’s Mask”. Skyward Sword may not resemble Majora’s Mask in the most obvious ways — there’s no three-day system or killer moon threatening to squash you — but it really does feel like a spiritual successor. Why do I say this? Hit the jump to find out…
Majora’s Mask featured a then-unique overworld centered on the bustling village of Clocktown. Around the central town were four themed areas — these areas weren’t particularly large, but they were piled high with enemies, obstacles and puzzles. More often than not simply getting to one of Majora’s four dungeons took longer than completing the dungeon itself.
Skyward Sword’s overworld follows a similar design. The world is centered on the large (by Zelda standards) town of Skyloft and surrounded by three themed areas densely packed with twisting paths and challenges to overcome. In both MM and SS (I’ll be saving myself some finger strain by abbreviating them from now on, hope you don’t mind) there’s no carefree galloping across the plains on your trusty steed. You’ve got to fight for every step of progress.
Epona was in Majora’s Mask, but he (she?) was mostly useless.
Both MM and SS are difficult by Zelda standards, and not just in the sense that they’ll each kill you more often than average for the series (although in my experience they will). Both games feel like they’re always pushing back against you — if you want to get through, you pretty much have to keep the Zelda cortex of your brain firing constantly. Enemies actually require a bit of strategy to defeat. Sometimes you’ll have to fail a few times before you figure something out. These are games for fans that have been through a Zelda or two (or a dozen).
It’s hard to define exactly why, but the dungeons in both games have a very similar “feel” to them. Both seem to focus less on elaborate block-pushing puzzles and more on simple navigation — these dungeons are twisted, multi-level knots to be unravelled. Most also feature a gimmick beyond simply having to use the new weapon you found in that dungeon…
…like timeshift stones. You’ll be playing with them a lot in Skyward Sword.
Both MM and SS really pile on the sidequests — hell, MM was arguably more sidequest than regular quest. Then again, all Zelda games have sidequests — where MM and SS are similar is that most of the sidequests involve performing some sort of service for the characters in the game. In both games delving into the sidequests not only rewards you with rupees or pieces of heart, but with a greater understanding of the game’s characters and backstory, making them all the more rewarding.