This article was originally written by Chuck Wendlick.
Majora’s Mask is one of those Zelda titles that many of us hold very dear. Each of us has our own reasons and rhymes for giving the game a special place in our hearts. I have been wanting to share this piece with you for a while now, and I finally think it’s time.
Majora’s Mask as, we all know, is the adventure of Link after he returns to his own time in Hyrule. He returned from his battles a changed boy. Forced into adulthood, he would forever remember his battle across time. Remember the pain that was spread across Hyrule. The pain he saw unleashed upon his friends all across the land. He would return home to the age he remembered, but the memories would never leave him. When it was finally all over and he believed he could return to the life he knew, his dearest friend left him behind. So he soon left too, to search for his most precious companion.
Majora’s Mask is where our Hero of Time begins a new, personal journey to find his old friend once more, but what Link finds is much more than he had originally anticipated. Swallowed into sea of Majora’s Wrath, Link is transformed into a young Deku child. He arrives in Clock Town and is told to retrieve the object that was taken from him, and that then he will be returned to his previous form. Link succeeds and his journey could very well continue. He could leave Clock Town and the mask owner to fend for themselves, to find Epona and continue seeking Navi elsewhere. What keeps Link from leaving Termina to go continue his quest? Some may argue it’s because he sees Tatl as Navi. Others may say it’s because he still owes debt to the Happy Mask Salesmen. I however, think it runs much deeper than that.
In the 3 days that Link had to recover his Ocarina, he witnessed the city move, started to meet and know the people of Clock Town, and in its final hours, knew what would befall Clock Town if actions were not taken. Link had seen Hyrule’s future before. With evil free to roam and no one there to stop it, Hyrule was transformed into a hellish nightmare—his home overrun with Massive Dekus, Zora’s Domain frozen solid, and Hyrule Market itself left in ruins and despair. I believe Link remembered what happened to his home without him there to save it. So, with the help of Tatl, he returned to Clock Town on the first day he arrived and vowed to save it from meeting a similar or worse end.
As we follow Link through his journey with Tatl to save the giants and stop Skull Kid, we see Link doing something much deeper than running the errands for the folk of Hyrule. He didn’t simply run masks to people, or save the carpenters. Link time and time again put himself in constant danger at various points for every person in Termina. He rushed to the aid of the old lady being robbed at Midnight on the first night. Link removed the poison from the swamp, scaled a frozen mountain to free the Gorons, swam through the ocean and ventured deep into not only a Pirate’s Lair, but an Eel Nest to help save the eggs of a Zora Woman. He fought off invaders for the farm, helped the dead finally find peace, helped reunite a couple in their darkest hours, and much, much more.
Link had gone, come, and went again through time, each time rushing to save the Giants, but to also to bring aid to one of the people he couldn’t help before. In this world, Link could eventually help and save everyone, which he wasn’t able to do in his home of Hyrule. However, before Link rose for his final battle against Skull Kid and eventually Majora himself, Link’s efforts had only affected a few individuals; the Giants and the masks that were once living beings. When Link went back to the first day for the last time, everything was reset. All the work Link had done had been reset every time and on this final trip through time, where Link would once and for all bring down Majora and stop the moon from falling, there would still be several people who just couldn’t be saved.
It’s left for you to decide whose lives you want to impact. Do you make the grandmother feel special by staying up and listening to her stories? Do you return to the mountains and free the Gorons from their icy prison? What about the Zoras? Do you reunite their band and clear the ocean waters? Do you break the curses of the gold skulltulas? It’s all left for you to decide w you believe is worthy of helping and saving. Maybe you won’t help anyone. Maybe you’ll dance till night and dawn again with one of the scarecrows. Or maybe you will just fast forward time until the night of the last day.
Either way, even with the power to go back and forth through time, you still can’t save everyone. You help others through, but doesn’t it come with some cost? To reunite Anju and Kafei, you need to allow an old woman to be attacked and robbed. However, to save her would be great, but that means you would never be able to reunite Anju with her love nor find the Mayor’s missing son. You end up with a free room at the Inn, which is great! You even found 100 Rupees in there, but you took the room of another person and now they’re forced to sleep in the street. What about your masks, the Deku, Goron, and Zora’s mask? A poor Deku Child was killed to transform Link into that state. A fallen warrior spirit let himself be transformed into a mask so that even after death he could fight again to save his people. A Zora who just wanted to get back the stolen eggs was left to rot on a beach, and when Link found him, he calmed him, and in death turned him into a mask. The Zora believe you, Link, to actually be Mikau, and after you’ve saved the eggs, you leave Lulu believing Mikau will return for her… but he never does.
Sure. Be all end all, Link stops Skull Kid, stops the Moon from falling, and puts an end to Majora. He was the hero of Termina and a hero to many, but he also wasn’t able to be a hero for everyone. You see, the thing that I love about Majora’s Mask is that it forces you, the player, to make these decisions—ones I am sure many people don’t even stop to think about. Majora’s Mask pushes you to save the people you think should be saved. It forces you to make a decision. And yes, choosing to warp to the final day and help no one is a decision. Link was a boy thrown into destiny—a destiny where he would be forced to flow through time over and over again in order to combat evil. In the end, you are the one to make the tough decisions. I believe this is why Link stayed in Termina—to try and stop Termina from meeting a similar fate that Hyrule did or may go through.
When I think about Majora’s Mask and why I enjoy the game so much, it’s more than just another Zelda game to me. It’s a game that teaches us that even with the power to control time and go back, we can’t change everything, we can’t help everyone, and even with that kind of power, we can’t be everywhere. Majora’s Mask helps remind me to be thankful for what I do have in my life and to appreciate the world and the loved ones around me, and that sometimes in life, things just happen that are beyond our control. For me, Majora’s Mask runs much deeper than just another adventure with Link.
What are your thoughts about Majora’s Mask? What are some of the things you love about the game—things that make you keep coming back to it?