Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask, both originally for the Nintendo 64, are arguably a couple of the most popular Legend of Zelda titles. They may not be everyone’s favorites, but no one can deny the impact both have made in the world of video games today. Speaking of them not being everyone’s favorites, Majora’s Mask is most definitely not mine. Out of the N64 titles, I much prefer Ocarina of Time over its sequel.
Both of these games have their pros and cons, yes. They are similar but very much different. I’ll be honest, when I was younger, I thought they were basically the same game. Why? I don’t know. I was a dumb child. Regardless, growing up watching Kris play these games allowed me to fall in love with both of them. I enjoy both adult Link and child Link. I like the plots of both games. However, if I had to choose which was better over the other, I think I’d have to go with Majora’s Mask.
You weren’t dumb, they do share the same engine and character models. In fact, Majora’s Mask relies on that for its story. I think that was one reason as to why I was never fond of the game when we were younger. To me, it wasn’t as original as Ocarina of Time. Ocarina was so successful that Nintendo wanted another quick Legend of Zelda game to emulate the success. With that said, I definitely prefer Ocarina’s story over Majora’s Mask. Ocarina of Time had this original, exciting adventure in order to save the world. The dungeons were unique as you gather items and allies, and the puzzles both in and out of the dungeons — and through time — were great to figure out.
You say you enjoyed the puzzles both in and out of the dungeons “and through time” but Majora’s Mask is one huge puzzle through time. It’s a race against the clock and, while it’s stressful, it gives you various routes to play through as you relive the same three days over and over. Given the various theories of the game – is Link dead? Is he in limbo? – the idea of going back in time for the same three days adds a lot of depth to the game, despite the same things happening over again.
See, the time constraints of Majora’s Mask were not fun to me at all. Puzzle-wise, I was speaking more of how I enjoyed seeing the effects of things I’ve done as past Link in Ocarina of Time in the future. The windmill, the Spirit Temple… Being able to see the effects of Link’s help — or the effects of him not being there to help — was fascinating to me as a story mechanic. It also allowed me to see the results of everything Link has done rather than be erased from time over and over again in Majora’s Mask. It felt like my actions in Ocarina of Time mattered much more than anything I did in Majora’s Mask. To me, Ocarina had a better world to explore as well, with more unique characters to get to know and watch grow between the seven-year time gap.
Okay, that’s fair. However, I’ll argue that you can’t see how your actions affect things because in the future, if you don’t “win,” the world is gone. As for the characters, I find the lot in Majora’s Mask to be quite unique. Each of them has their own story that they share with you as you collect their masks. They’re giving you part of their soul as they pass on to another life. They’ve all had hard times. They’re all grieving for something in their own ways. Link takes those stories, those lives, in his hands and becomes one with them in an attempt to save the world and to maybe, possibly, save those characters by allowing them to rest in peace.
Going off on your argument, the world would literally be gone in Majora’s Mask via a giant moon with a creepy face. Not only that, due to always turning back time and starting over, there’s always those certain characters that you may save in one timeline but will still meet a terrible fate once you turn back the clock. To continue flipping your reasoning, it’s similar with the Sages in Ocarina of Time. They each give up their previous lives for the greater good, sharing their strengths and power with Link as they all band together to save their world. They abandon who they were to become who they were meant to be, whether they like it or not, for the greater good. Aside from these more philosophical reasons, I just also greatly enjoyed the dungeons and exploration of Hyrule more in Ocarina than Majora’s. Majora’s Mask had you rushing, always worried about the clock, while Ocarina granted you more time to figure out secrets.
That’s all well and good. And honestly, I absolutely love both games. It’s really hard to pick which one is “better.” As I said earlier, they both have their pros and cons but are completely unique in their own way. I’ll be curious to see which side our readers are on.