1UP: Majora’s Mask a Dark Story Filled With Troubles and Depression

TimothyDecember 5th, 2012 by Timothy

When asked about which Zelda title has the darkest storyline, most fans of the series would consider Twilight Princess as the culprit in displaying themes of immense sorrow and grueling hardship in the land of Hyrule. Its graphical design and the twilight world involved in the title are mainly responsible for the impression it marks on players as it reveals the difficulties faced by commoners which Link needs to help in order to allow for a greater future. Although, looking at a Zelda title in this way is not only strictly limited to Twilight Princess.

Nintendo site 1UP has written an article stating why Majora’s Mask’s clockwork apocalypse revolves around a Termina suffering from a dark and depressing nature twisting and turning with some absolutely horrendous events which produce absolute sadness and misery for citizens in the region. In this way, 1UP considers Majora’s Mask to be even darker than Twilight Princess.

Care to take a glance at what 1UP has to say about the dark themes of Majora’s Mask? If so, click the jump to read more!

1UP starts the article by making a point that although Zelda fans were shocked when the ESRB slapped Twilight Princess with the mature T rating for its adult nature, Majora’s Mask was on par or even greater in its display of real-life events. 1UP believes Majora’s Mask’s storyline is the darkest and most emotionally written by the family-friendly Nintendo team.

Also discussed is how although every Zelda game happens to feature problems, Majora’s Mask’s storyline is plagued with issues all the way through the plot in which you partake. Instances such as the Redead and Gibdo-infested farm in which a daughter needs to take care of her father who’s turned into a half-Gibdo, a Goron forced to sleep outside due to Link taking up the vacancy in the inn, and plenty of other difficulties turn this title into a depressing experience. 1UP also makes the point that even though you happen to save these people by performing successfully on certain quests, the items you are given do not hide away from the fact that once you play the “Song of Time” on your ocarina and warp backward to day one all those troubles occur once again.

If you would like to read 1UP’s full article about Majora’s Mask and the clockwork apocalypse then click here!

Do you believe Majora’s Mask is the darkest Zelda title? Do you feel emotional experiencing all the sadness and depression in the game? Do you agree with 1UP’s article?

Source: 1UP

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  • VikzeLink

    This brings back memories of Axle’s video on this topic, but I disagree with him on this point, I think Majora’s Mask got more of a hidden darkness that is more implied than shown and that really creeps me out. Best game in the series, no doubt!

  • Dark Link

    i think it’s true that majora’s mask is darker but the best game is twilight princess

  • Kabro006

    Majora´s Mask is easily darket than Twilight princess. My favorite of them are still TP but MM´s overall feeling of hopelessness knowing that all you do won´t matter in three days, and the peoples reactions and behavior in their situation adds to the depth of the story. Twilight princess though a good game doesn´t move you much in that way, its not very horrible what has happened in comparison considering that all the people are ok and will be. I loved TP because of the graphics and that i really liked Midna. And on a sidenote, MM is the only game that will show you the worlds end when you fail and everyones sadness. I love both games but like a said, its crystal clear that MM is darker than TP. though of course its my opinion.

  • Vaati, wind god

    I love Majora’s Mask. Something else is that even though it has the same design and graphics as ocarina of time, if you put the two games colors next to each other Majora’s Mask is much darker than ocarina of time. That coupled with the constant feeling that you will die if you take to long and the problems that everyone has is enough in itself to be darker than Twilight Princess.

  • JuicieJ

    Never considered Majora’s Mask dark. It’s creepy and eerie to be sure, and bad things happen to seemingly everyone in Termina, but it’s more about love, friendship, hope, and cherishing friends and family more than anything. Half of the point is to make people happy. Dark would be all the bad things happening and have us not be able to do anything about it.

    • http://www.controlpaddesign.com/ TheMaverickk

      It’s about both those depressing circumstances and love and friendship.

      Everyone in Termina is troubled…. some of the trouble is caused by Skull Kid, but the majority of peoples woes and troubles are actually caused by other people in the land. The Gorman brothers steal from Romani, probably due to desperation or hard times, and Sakon steals from Kafei simply out of greed…. and in turn Kafei ends up hurting Anju in his quest for redemption before their wedding…. and there is a cascading impact between the people of the world.

      In the end though these troubles, the issues that many of the people suffer from, are over come through friendship and love. By having faith that things will work out and can work out.

      At the end of the day without the dark moments in the game, you wouldn’t have such profound happy moments as well. Moments of redemption.

      • JuicieJ

        Exactly. Despite being creepy, it’s not a truly dark game. I really think people overlook what the game’s goal is about when they call it dark. Its goal is to make you want to help others. By doing that, dire situations have to be created so characters can have a reason to be helped, otherwise it’s just like going through the motions (i.e. the cucco lady in Kakariko Village in OoT). The dark undertones are a mere means to set up the real tone of the game: heartwarming.

    • shadowlink13

      mm is the scariest game there is but the piano in big boos haunt in sm64 scared me more than any zelda thing (dont get me wrong zeldas better than mario)

  • MinoriRyunosuke

    Majora’s Mask is centered around death, the apocalypse, people losing everyone they’ve ever loved, etc.
    Twilight princess involves losing your kingdom to darkness and tyrants.
    MM may LOOK brighter and nicer, but if you gave both games the same graphics, believe me you would easily be able to tell how much darker MM is…

    • Peter

      I wish we could see that MM in the graphic style of TP

      • http://www.controlpaddesign.com/ TheMaverickk

        I’d rather see the game look like the official art they created for it. With that very dark shading comic book style.

        Duplicating that art style properly would give the world of Majora’s Mask it’s own distinct look.

    • shadowlink13

      majoras mask is about armageddon

    • http://www.controlpaddesign.com/ TheMaverickk

      Majora’s Mask isn’t about death actually. This is a common misconception.

      It’s actually all about the heart…. literally.

      The symbolism for this is all around the world. Majora’s Mask itself is actually heart shaped.

      The world of Termina is divided into four sections…. just like the chambers of the heart. Clock Town likewise is divided into 4 areas… again for the same reason. The number 4 is all over Termina and many patterns and designs are buit in four sections.

      All over the land of Termina it’s people suffer from many conditions of the heart…. heart break (Anju), weak hearts (Sword Master, Postman, Dampe), unforgiving hearts (The Deku King, King of Ikana), unfullfilled hearts (Grog, Darmani, Miku)…….

      To put it into a simpler generalization, the theme of Majora’s Mask revolves around emotions of the heart.

      In the end all the problems that occur to characters are a direct result of emotional weakness… whether internally in themselves (the Postman can’t think for himself and is afraid to abandon his duty even though he wants to flee) or caused externally by another party (Sakon’s greed in turn causes turmoil for Kafei, which ripples into and affects Anju and the others who know Kafei).

      And in the end overcome their problems and issues through love, friendship and other strong positive emotions. Not to mention reconciliation is a HUGE part of the game. Friends who are torn a part resolve their differences and misunderstadings through acts of love.

      This is the theme of Majora’s Mask. The falling moon apocalypse is nothing more then a backdrop for a world where people have abandoned love for more selfish desires.

      • Midna’s Sister

        You’re amazingly right! It’s all revolving around emotion.

      • MinoriRyunosuke

        that’s an incredible observation, o_oU

      • http://www.facebook.com/TheKillah29 David Reynolds

        Holy sh*t. :O This just adds more depth that i’ve already known to the game. So now I see it as all being about the conditions of the heart coupled with the Five Stages of Grief.
        Clocktown – Denial “the moon’s not gonna fall”/”Are we even gonna live?”.
        Southern Swamp – Anger “Blame the monkey for our missing princess”.
        Snowhead Mountain – Bargaining “Please save us Darmani”.
        Great Bay – Depression – Lulu getting depressed after losing her voice and her eggs.
        Ikana Valley – Acceptance – The Ikana king accepts that he’s died and leaves all his hopes with Link.

        And to help with this, the world is divided into 4 main areas. 4 = the Japanese word ‘Shi’ which can also mean death.

  • Roth

    When are people going to get this straight:

    It’s about depth, not darkness. MM has much more depth than TP, both in darkness and in light, in sadness and hope, in despair and resolution. Pure darkness bears little meaning, and MM is chock full of meaning, so…

    Yes, it is certainly the darkest title, but there’s vastly more to it that makes it so special! We can’t go on treating darkness as an exclusive ultimatum that only holds its weight if there are no counterbalances. That’s just missing the point.

  • http://www.controlpaddesign.com/ TheMaverickk

    What I love is how people think Twilight Princess and Majora’s Mask are dark….

    Yet no one considers Wind Waker dark. Despite the fact that it’s set in a post apocalyptic future Hyrule… where it’s citizens have been scattered far and wide, and there are few who even know of their once great countries history.

    Not only is the games history dark, but there is still impending doom at hand… dark and foul beasts have been taking over the sea…. sea monsters have been wreaking havoc to many denizens and a greater evil is lurking in the back ground. Stealing and kidnapping loved ones in search of a certain someone.

    The Wind Waker is has just as much a dark story line with grueling hardship for the once citizens of Hyrule simply trying to get by.

    Also it even has it’s dark moments, yet no one remembers when the sea is darkened as you search for the last pearl, or when Link goes to face the dark lord prematurely…. with out the power to actually stand a chance of winning.

    Don’t get me wrong there is no doubt that Majora’s Mask still takes the cake for it’s depressing themes. It’s certainly the darkest Zelda. Just sad that no one recognizes that these elements are even present in the cheerful looking Wind Waker.

    • Peter

      If WW didn’t look like a Saturday morning cartoon then yes. I’d agree with you, cause of the cartoon art style it looks all happy, which takes away from the what you saying about the game.

      • http://www.controlpaddesign.com/ TheMaverickk

        Adventure Time is a saturday morning cartoon about a world after a nuclear war.

        Again cartoon expressing post apocalyptic scenario. Although somewhat removed from the initial event that doesn’t change the fact that there is an underlying darkness to the world it created.

        Saying that cartoon visuals can’t express “dark” themes is a very shallow mindset. The visual aesthetic doesn’t alter the content it expresses… all it does is simply present it in a different style.

        Not to mention Wind Waker even has “darker” portions in the game. The Earth Temple isn’t a happy go lucky adventure into the depths of a dungeon. Neither is sneaking around a goblin filled Pirate Fortress populated by Phantom apparitions of a dark lord.

        There are numerous dark, even depressing events in the game, from characters struggling with poverty, lost ones, depression due to a lack of confidence, a grandmother who has fallen ill from the loss of her grandchildren….

        The Wind Waker is full of struggle and hardship. Regardless of it’s visual style.

        • Roth

          “Saying that cartoon visuals can’t express “dark” themes is a very shallow mindset. The visual aesthetic doesn’t alter the content it expresses… all it does is simply present it in a different style.”

          No joke. How many games have shown Ganondorf with a frickin’ SWORD in his HEAD? That’s right, just the one that could visually represent it the least disturbingly. WW’s art style actually *allowed* it to be dark in some areas.

    • Turtles!

      That’s true, but sometimes it’s hard to think of Wind Waker as very dark, due to the art style (I love it’s art style, though)

  • http://www.facebook.com/syd.self Syd Self

    The game wasn’t even optimistic, as both theory and now the Historia have confirmed that the Zelda ‘verse uses the alternate timeline mechanic for time travel. In other words, you never, ever save everyone in majora’s mask, no matter how you try. All you can do, and part of what Link’s unwilling to give up on, is creating one timeline where the moon doesn’t fall. This doesn’t mean that all the prior times you played the song of time the world didn’t continue on, if we are to believe the timeline theory. Majora’s Mask is not only one of the harder games in the series, and in my personal experience, though YMMV, the most challenging 3D one. The difficulty only serves to reinforce the hopelessness of the concept of saving the world. Even when you succeed, every timeline you fail in leaves every person you helped or ignored to be destroyed in the moonfall.

    It does, however, have a bitter idealism, in that even though the people realize they are doomed, they refuse to give up. They may abandon their town, but they try to convince each other that escaping is salvation. This despite the fact that information provided to you, and common sense, implies that the moonfall will destroy far more than just clock town. This reaches it’s peak in Anju and Kaifei, where they are determined to be happy, even if they can’t escape.

    One could also make a case for the original games being the darkest, as they clearly take place in a post-apocalyptic world, Ganon having won, and Zelda 2 implies that Ganon cannot be destroyed in this timeline for good, as the moment Link dies results in his return. Using my difficulty argument from earlier, the fact that the original two games were significantly harder than any of their successors serves, as in MM, to reinforce the hopelessness of your struggle. Still, the character depth in MM definitely made the tragedy more meaningful to the player, and I would agree that yes, this was the darkest game in the series.

    • http://www.controlpaddesign.com/ TheMaverickk

      “In other words, you never, ever save everyone in majora’s mask, no
      matter how you try. All you can do, and part of what Link’s unwilling to
      give up on, is creating one timeline where the moon doesn’t fall.”

      I’m not sure if this is the case in Majora’s Mask. When you complete the game you are treated to an ending which begins with this;

      “Dawn of a New Day”

      What follows after is scenes depicting the events on this new day, which are all the after math of Link’s deeds. Anju and Kafei getting married, the Indigo-go’s performance, ect.

      It’s just a theory, and personally my interpretation of the ending… but I like to believe that perhaps the masks Link obtained through helping people, acted as proof of his actions, and served as threads to combine all the acts he had done over the course of those three days… essentially merging each and every run Link did through each cycle into one cohesive timeline. Which then leads into that New Day.

      Essentially why show the events of that new day, if none of them come to pass (because in previous runs that day wouldn’t exist). It’s a conundrum for sure, especially in regards to how Nintendo treats timelines, and there was so much time traveling in MM.

      Mind you I’ll just go on what the Happy Mask Salesman says and just say “Just have faith”… faith that it all worked out and what you see in the ending of the New Day is in fact what transpired at the end.

      • shadowlink13

        i think hes sayinng that each time u go back ur creating an alternate timeline so if u go back 50 times and then beat it theres the three regular timelines plus 50 timelines where the moon falls though some of the may be slightly different from others like each time u got a weapon or mask and u go back the timelines the same except that a mask disappearred and will never be seen in that timeline again

        • http://www.controlpaddesign.com/ TheMaverickk

          Yeah …. I know what he was saying…. I just don’t necessarily think it’s true or how it works in the case of Majora’s Mask. Just sharing my own interpretation of the events. Since Nintendo hasn’t stepped in and said “this is how the ending works” or “this is canon”, it means that the ending is open to interpretation.

          • http://www.facebook.com/syd.self Syd Self

            Well, there is the implication that Majora’s Mask time travel works on different mechanics from that of Ocarina and Oracle of Ages, being closer to a direct rewind. Whether that’s related to the alternate universe or just the Goddess’ direct intervention is unclear, though.

            I don’t think I could accept the “Everyone is happy” theory, though I’d like to, mostly because that seems unrealistically optimistic, even for a Zelda game. I would have expected them to directly address the issue with saving everyone. I see it as a sort of “What if” thing, a bit of extra angst, saying “This is what would happen if you saved such and such people.”

            Of course, more optimistically, if the moon is prevented from falling, and Majora’s Mask doesn’t use alternate worlds, it’s probable that the remainder of the grievances caused in the world would sort themselves out. There’s no claim in game that it is the direct next day, and in fact it implies that these good endings take place over a period of time. It’s possible that, say, whoever is in charge of hallucinations gave Link visions of the happy endings awaiting those he saved as a sort of reward/resolution, because heaven knows he isn’t likely to stick around to see. Mask Man for the win there.

      • Midna’s Sister

        I agree. I think even Dr. Emmet Brown would be confused by the Song of Time.

    • http://lulles.deviantart.com/ lulles

      Time traveling is such a confusing matter. What you say about time going on even when Link plays the Song of Time makes sense, but I like to believe that when he does, time really goes backwards not just for him, but everyone.

  • qwertyuiop

    1up needs to read Axle’s (at least I think it was his) article on the subject.

  • Emma Mix

    I think it’s the darkest storyline, but I’d have to say that TP’s art style is the darkest. Although once you see Majora’s Wrath, things change a bit…

  • http://www.facebook.com/kyle.clark.967 Kyle Clark

    The title shows why i love that game so much

  • MiniJen

    Twilight Princess is dark in some ways, though I will agree that Majora’s Mask is the darkest Zelda game by far. Twilight Princess has darkness in its main story and characters, especially Midna’s plight throughout the game, and those dark moments form some of the best parts of the game. But other times, the game seems like it can’t decide if it wants to be serious or silly and that really disappointed me at times. Majora’s Mask is constantly dark, even in its minor details that you wouldn’t expect to be so in depth. But in the end, I love both games :D

    • http://www.controlpaddesign.com/ TheMaverickk

      Twilight Princess is full on waffles. Not a terrible game, but many aspects of it just don’t seem fully realized like other Zelda titles.

      Majora’s Mask was full tilt dark, and you see it reflected through out the world and the people in it and it all relates to Link’s own personal journey and his abilities all the same.

  • psykikduk

    So…. anyone remember Ben?

    • anonymau5

      Yes. Who needs sleep, anyways?

  • Tehlul

    Seems like the articles you guys write about mm are the same thing with a different title
    I would have never guessed mm was a dark and depressing game.

    • Timothy

      We didn’t write the article, 1Up did and because it’s a Zelda story we feel obligated to post about it.

  • 10DS

    People never seem to know what dark is… Twilight Princess wasn’t dark. Majora’s Mask would’ve been the darkest story on the planet if Twilight Princess is considered dark.

  • Eruo

    Majora’s Mask, ah the staying up late playing until the sun comes up and the people are starting there morning routine of events, moving to one place only to go back to where they came from. Blissfulness unaware of the moon coming closer to earth……. Classic.

  • http://www.amazon.com/dp/B005S0W0MS/?tag=signalpublis-20 Thareous

    In my opinion, Majora’s Mask was all about atmosphere, whereas Twilight Princess played off the darker elements such as a pensive structure [nearly] all the way through.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Steve-Thompson/100000355411389 Steve Thompson

    truth.

  • Aaron hill

    mm was deffinetly the most depressing and in depth zelda ive played. but in a sense TP had the darker looks and feel to it i would say that that MM in every way darker than TP just because people die lose there loved ones the world is about to be destroyed and TP has a darker art style to it but the aspect of it is not has dark has MM. yes i admit this is my opinion though so argue all you want against it.

  • HyruleHistory10

    I would not have considered leaving Goro-Link out in the rain really depressing, but anyway, I think it was dark yes, though i am not sure i think it is THE darkest. That is up to personal opinon because most games have equally as dark themes just represented different ways. Instead why don’t we talk about what MAKES a dark Zelda game. I think that the real reason MM and TP and yes WW and SS are dark is because you are thrown into Hyrule/ Termina AFTER said villan has had their way with the world, instead of following them around and stopping their plans.

  • erikingvoldsen

    Ehhh…the Gibdo scene was kinda dark yeah. The main problem with many of these scenes is how little we knew the characters and how rarely they cared. Moons falling? I can only see two people in the entire town who seem to show concern. That’s the SwordMaster and Postman.

    While many flee the town, they don’t don’t off any sign of terror. They just sorta look at moon and say “Oh…it’s falling. That sucks.” and leave. There isn’t enough fear. The only person in the ranch who seemed to care at all was Cremia and she didn’t show much. Grog KNEW he was going to die, and he seemed to care very little about it. Fact is, why should I care for these people if they don’t care for themselves?

    Outside of the town and the ranch, the others had very little character and, overall, didn’t seem too concerned with what was going on. The Gorons seemed the most concerned and even then, it wasn’t even that emotional and most of it was over a baby crying rather than the harsh cold or the moon falling.

    • http://www.controlpaddesign.com/ TheMaverickk

      Most of these people didn’t care about the moon falling because their own personal dilemma’s came first.

      It’s actually kind of the theme of the entire game. The denizens of Termina are so wrapped up in their own problems, and they are busy being selfish, that they cause problems for each other, as opposed to banding together and doing something about the real problem at hand…. the falling moon.

      Some people see that the moon is getting closer even and just don’t care, cause they don’t believe it’s happening…. hence why you have characters arguing about what the towns people should be doing…. should they be cancelling the festival to run away and hide, or be selfish and just put it on anyways because people depend on the festival for business, personal enjoyment, ect.

      I mean that’s why there is the whole passionate debate raging in the mayors office between the soldiers who are in great fear of the moon, and the stubborn and skeptical head carpenter.

      And that attitude is carried on through the rest of the game. There are those who are in a frenzy and fear the worst, and there are others who are skeptical and are unsure if the moon will really fall (Cremia actually wonders that exact fact on the second night)… and that’s why you get these people who don’t seem to care very much. With a last section of people who have just accepted the inevitability of it all. Like Mr. Barten who says he isn’t the kind of person to leave just because things look bleak, or Grog who can accept the end with his one wish fulfilled (which he cared more about then his own life apparently, and had him more depressed then dieing).

      There are a lot of people who mention the moon, and the problems it’s causing. Majora’s Mask simply shows a wide spectrum of reaction to a the potential apocalypse….

      And in many ways it mirrors our own socieities attitudes about “end of the world” scenarios. Look at Y2K (which was a legit worry for whatever reason during the development of Majora’s Mask) or even this year with the whole 2012 thing.

      You will have people who believe it, and of course people who think it’s ridiculous. Even if in MM they make it pretty clear it’s actually going to happen. Yet people still act and behave in a similar manner to our worlds attitudes.

    • shadowlink13

      what about anju ? and whos grog?

      • erikingvoldsen

        Spiky haired kid with the chickens. Anju is never really seen caring about the moon itself and, unfortunately, had little character to care about.

  • DougTheRhino

    Just putting it out there, I’m pretty sure that no one thinks that Twilight Princess is the darkest game in the series. It’s pretty much common knowledge at this point that Majora’s Mask is easily the darkest, most subversive Zelda title today and is the black sheep of the Zelda series because of this radically different tonal and thematic shift.

  • Midna’s Sister

    Zelda isn’t about darkness. Majora’s Mask isn’t necaserrily “dark”. It’s depth.

  • 60thchip

    majoras mask is my fav by far! its the darkest and saddest game, it really gets to you.