Stories We Need [Ocarina of Time & Majora’s Mask]

Double Jump Kris MiiHappy Monday everyone!

This post goes along with our Zelda Month theme for November along with NaNoWriMo that Rachel and I also participate in every year. This is more of a personal, introspective piece, so I hope you enjoy it. 

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The story line of video games is important to me. Like a good book, I need to be invested in what is going on in the game, the “why is this nonsense happening,” the plot. Don’t get me wrong, games without stories — like beat-em-ups or racing games — can be just as fun, but I definitely prefer games with a strong story.

It may just be the writer in me or it could be due to the gaming influences I’ve grown up with. My first clear memory of Mario was from Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars rather than Super Mario World. Mario RPG had a story and an interesting world and characters who all had their own agendas and personalities, even if they were a little cliche. Mario World had a bare-bones story, making you go from level to level to chase down Bowser and the princess, and did its primary job of being a platformer.

(Of course, the other reason why Mario World’s story is so-so to me could be because, when I was first introduced to it, I wondered why the princess would need saving. Sure, at the beginning of Mario RPG, I learned that Bowser tended to kidnap her a lot, but after we busted her out, she refused to be left behind and joined the party to fight. Why couldn’t she just escape herself in Mario World with her frying pan and psych bombs? But, I digress.)

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time was another game that gave me a story line to adore. And, yes, most of the games in the rest of the franchise may have used the same general plot line — with the help of a woman with wisdom, a guy with courage goes to defeat a man with power — but they all have fantastic new adventures, and I’ve enjoyed most of them.

One that I did not particularly care for was Ocarina of Time’s sequel, Majora’s Mask. Despite the game’s following and all the praise it has gotten, I have never been able to bring myself to finish it. I have absolutely no desire to dive into that story myself.

Don’t get me wrong, Majora’s Mask was a game that I believe was done brilliantly. The themes of the plot — particularly loss, grief, and death — were heavy stuff that was pulled off masterfully. I appreciate what the game has brought to the table and how thought-provoking the game continues to be today.

But, unlike Ocarina of Time, Majora’s Mask was never a story I needed.

As a writer, one of the most overheard pieces of writing advice you hear is, “Write what you know.” Use your personal experiences, your feelings, your thoughts in your writing to evoke the same from your readers.

But that’s not why we write. We write to explore new worlds, to escape our current reality, to figure out our feelings, to maybe start following a different train of thought. Those are also the same reasons as to why I play video games.

Ocarina of Time came out in 1998 and Majora’s Mask in 2000. I’ll be honest, Ocarina of Time was a fun quest, one where I could play with the hero, but in 1998, I had no idea what I was doing. I just enjoyed meeting the characters, getting through a few dungeons and, on my uncle’s copy of the game, riding Epona around Hyrule Field on his (completed) save file. Majora’s Mask was darker, gloomier, and I didn’t care at all for the timed day mechanic as a kid.

The games came out on the Wii’s Virtual Console in 2007 and 2009, respectively, and I remember being excited for them. For the first time, I actually beat Ocarina of Time on my own, and the rush of accomplishment and pride was amazing. I was seventeen, in the second half of my junior year of high school, the time when everyone in my grade was panicking about SATs and college applications. While I did well in high school, I was firmly pretending that college was not a thing that existed. I ignored the impending deadlines, ignored the anxiety of trying to figure out a college major let alone a school, ignored the fact that my best friends were looking to go out of state.

I eventually made the decision not to even apply to any schools. Instead, I got a job while going to the local community college for an associates degree in information technology. When the SATs rolled around, my friends spent the night before with SAT prep books and practice tests. Me? I played video games with Rachel.

Ocarina of Time let me be in control during that tumultuous part of my life. I was with the hero, I was helping and saving people. I was allowed to explore the unknown, to figure out what I needed and wanted to do. I was able to get a horse. I was part of a story where I could make a difference.

I tried playing Majora’s Mask when it became available on the Virtual Console, and I beat a couple of the dungeons before being done. At that point in my life, I was nineteen and feeling left behind when comparing myself with my friends’ journeys. I was in the middle of switching my associate’s degree from IT to computer forensics to see if that would help keep me interested in school while still working retail. My passions for writing and gaming were getting more serious, but there was always those niggling questions of, “But what will you do for money? How will you do that for a living?”

Majora’s Mask echoed the chaos that I felt then. I was running out of time. I was missing friends from high school, friends that had promised with me to keep in touch, but then the friendships dissolved. I was part of too many stories that could be erased at any time, ones where my efforts wouldn’t matter and I’d find myself stuck at the beginning. Or, worse, a dead end.

It wasn’t the kind of story, the kind of game, that I needed back then.

Of course, my retail and computer skills have helped me tremendously with my current job. It’s not as creative as I would like it, but it has given me fantastic coworkers, an actual schedule, benefits, and pay that helps support both my bills and my gaming. While I’m not quite where I want to be yet, I can’t complain about where my life path has taken me. Ocarina’s story, to me, was about exploring and finding yourself and that’s what I’m still doing.

People should be told to write (or play) what you need more often. Stories have such a profound effect on readers, gamers, what-have-you, that I don’t believe people realize how much they need a story until they experience it. Ocarina of Time is one of my favorite stories from the Legend of Zelda franchise because it is what I needed at that time in my life. It’s taken me some time to fully realize it’s impact, but better late than never, right?

What video game story line do you feel has made an impact on your life?

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Confession: I’ve Never Played Majora’s Mask

Double Jump Kris MiiHappy Monday! How is everyone?

With E3 happening, many companies are showcasing new games and DLC and such for the world. Considering all the new games that are being shown off, I was going through some of our older games and came to a realization about one of my favorite franchises…

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I have a confession to make. I have never finished playing The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask.

The Legend of Zelda series has been one of my favorite franchises ever since I was able to pick up a controller. Even before then, Ocarina of Time was one of the titles that I constantly bothered my uncle to play so I could watch. The worlds, the swordplay, the tales of heroics about Link and Zelda… I love it.

Majora’s Mask, however, was never one of my favorites within the franchise. It’s arguably one of the most popular installments of the series, but I never found its appeal. In fact, it’s one of the only console Legend of Zelda games I haven’t completed (the other games being the Zelda titles that were on the NES, and my excuse is I didn’t exist back then). I know the story and the game play

I’m not entirely sure why I have no interest in Majora’s Mask. It has characters familiar from the Ocarina world with a sort of Wonderland feeling to them. It has a new world to explore, new items to discover in the form of masks, and an interesting story to boot — time travel with themes of death.

Perhaps it’s because I felt constrained by the time limit of three days. I felt as if my hard work from one set of three days was undone whenever I went back in time. The monkey I just saved from the Deku King in the woodlands? He’ll be sentenced to death for being wrongfully accused of kidnapping the Deku Princess, who is probably still trapped in the dungeon, when I play my ocarina. It brought about a repetitive mentality (“I already did this!”) instead of the liberated dungeon showing the positive influences on the world that Link is trying to save.

Maybe it was the collecting that came with the game. It had plenty of fun masks, all required to head off to the final boss of the game, but I was never a fan of collecting. Case in point was Super Mario Odyssey. It was a good game, but as soon as I was done with the main story, I haven’t turned it on again. I have absolutely no desire to run around and collect more moons, similar to how I never had the desire to collect masks.

Another reason could have been simply because Majora’s Mask just wasn’t my thing. An unpopular opinion? Probably. Maybe one day I’ll try to go back to it, but it probably won’t be anytime soon.

What do you think of Majora’s Mask? Do you have any popular games that you haven’t had the desire to play?

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Loss In Majora’s Mask

Rachel Mii Double JumpHappy Thursday!

I’ve been talking about themes in writing over on my writing blog. I’ve talked about death and I started thinking about The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask.

Majora’s Mask is probably one of the darkest Zelda games, in my opinion, and the theme of death has a lot to do with it.

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There are various theories floating around the Internet about Majora’s Mask. One where Link is actually dead and he’s accepting his own fate and the theory that the game is actually the five stages of grieve because either Link himself is dead (hence the first theory) or he’s grieving the death of Navi. (If you don’t know either one of these theories, click on the links and they’ll take you to each respective theory on ZeldaDungeon.net.)

But I’m not here to talk about that. I’m thinking more specifically about the Skull Kid.

There’s also a theory floating around that the Skull Kid from Ocarina of Time, Majora’s Mask, and Twilight Princess are the same Skull Kid. In Ocarina of Time, Link plays Saria’s Song for him. In Majora’s Mask, the Skull Kid mentions that Link has “the same smell as the fairy kid who taught me that song in the woods.” The Skull Kid from Twilight Princess also knows Saria’s Song.

And, according to the official Zelda timeline, these three games line up one right after another. First Ocarina of Time where Link first meets the Skull Kid, then, if the hero is successful, Majora’s Mask, and Twilight Princess is after that.

People also speculate that the Skull Kid wears the Mojora’s Mask because he is ashamed that he has no face. He has no friends and the mask makes him looking more intimidating, making us wonder what his past is really like.

So, with all that said, what is my point with this post?

I don’t think Majora’s Mask is about death in a concrete way. Sure, Link can be grieving, Link and/or Navi can be dead, but I think the main focus is the Skull Kid himself.

While the Skull Kid is the main antagonist, it’s not really him who is the bad guy. It’s the mask, Majora. The Skull Kid has been wearing it for so long that it’s taken over his mind and his body. Sure, he’s mischievous and likes to play tricks, but it wasn’t him who wanted to destroy everything. It was the mask.

In other words, I think Majora’s Mask is more about the death and loss of innocence.

All the Skull Kid wanted was to make friends, but the mask took over his mind and spirit. He wasn’t able to live the life he deserved or wanted because he found that mask and dared to put it on.

This can also pertain to Link as well. In Ocarina of Time he traveled seven years back and forth between being a child and an adult. He was asleep for seven years and when he woke up, he realized that he had suddenly gone through puberty. What a shock, huh?

In Majora’s Mask, he’s a child as it’s on the “hero is successful” part of the timeline. But here’s the thing:

  • Link may be dead. In that case, he lost his childhood.
  • Link may be grieving the death of Navi. If that’s the case, he remembers everything that happened in Ocarina of Time. He’s been in the mind of his adult-self. He knows things a ten-year-old shouldn’t.
  • Link may be normal, everything’s fine and dandy, but what happens in Majora’s Mask? The world is ending and Link transforms himself into various races and people through the many masks he collects. By doing this, he could very well stoop down to the Skull Kid’s level. Those masks could warp Link’s mind just like the Majora’s Mask did to the Skull Kid

And that’s all I’ve got. Sure, Majora’s Mask is about death and turmoil, but I think there’s much more to it than meets the eye.

What are your thoughts? Am I making any sense? Do you have different thoughts? Let me know in the comments below!

This theory was expanded on NowLoading.co. Check it out!

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Top Tuesday: Zelda Soundtracks

Rachel Mii Double JumpHappy Tuesday!

After quite a while of playing, Kris and I finally beat The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD. We’ve been playing it for a few weeks now and finally sat down to play through the rest of the game every day at the end of last week. We got into a discussion of the music at some point, of course.

So, here are my top five favorite Zelda soundtracks.

5. Majora’s Mask

Majora’s Mask is one of the most beloved Zelda games ever made. It’s similar to Ocarina of Time, which everyone loved, it’s practically a sequel and while the themes are dark, it tells a wonderful tale. Link goes through something that we all go through. To create different tracks for each species Link becomes as well as the dark messages that are sent is definitely a tricky one. The music fits the dark mood wonderfully.

4. Ocarina of Time

Ocarina of Time was the number one spot on my list for a while. Listening to The Lost Woods and Gerudo Valley (still my top two favorite songs) always put a smile on my face and I always hummed the tunes whenever and where ever. Of course, new game come out and new songs are created. But Ocarina of Time always has that nostalgia piece for me whenever I hear its songs.

3. Skyward Sword

When Skyward Sword came out, I know it was a hit or miss for a lot of people. Despite it being the 25th anniversary game, I know some people didn’t like the motion controls and some people thought the game was too easy to be a Zelda game. To be honest, Skyward Sword instantly became my favorite Zelda game because it was on the easier side. With it supposedly being the first game chronologically, I thought, why shouldn’t it be a bit easier? Especially since Hyrule wasn’t created yet.

But, I’m rambling now. The music in this game always gave me feels because it was brand new. The world of Zelda was new and exciting and waiting to be discovered. The feeling of soaring through the air on your Loftwing and then of course having Fi around–her theme song is the best–the music just makes you feel at home.

2. Wind Waker

The music to this game is so catchy and upbeat and fits in perfectly with the cartoon-look of the game. The whole atmosphere is bright and light-hearted (despite the content) and the music just flows right along with it. I especially love sailing across the water. The music makes you feel like there’s an entire world out there that needs exploring.

1. Twilight Princess

No, this isn’t my number one simply because I just played the game recently. This has always been my favorite soundtrack. The music everywhere you go in the game is simply wonderful. I found myself and Kris pausing our conversation just to listen to the music. Midna’s and Ilia’s themes are my favorite.

What are your favorite Zelda soundtracks?

I Have a Confession

Rachel Mii Double JumpHey, it’s Rachel.

Yesterday Kris and I talked about the wonderful lore of The Legend of Zelda games.

I thought now was as good a time as any to confess something about me and the Zelda games.

The Legend of Zelda is one of my all-time favorite video game series.

I can list my top 5 favorite Zelda games to you. I know absolutely everything (or mostly everything) there is to know about Zelda. Skyward Sword is on my top video games list.

Here’s the thing: if you know me then you know that I have Second Player Syndrome. With that being said…

Confession Time:

I have never played any of the Legend of Zelda games on my own.

True story. I’ve started playing Majora’s Mask for the 3DS, A Link Between Worlds for the 3DS, Oracle of Seasons/Ages for the Gameboy Color, and I’ve even played bits and pieces of Skyward Sword for the Wii.

I never got very far in any of them, though. Not because I didn’t enjoy the games, but just because I get busy and forget to go back to it.

I’ve seen all of this games played from start to finish. This is where my Second Player Syndrome comes in… I’ve watched Kris play all of these games.

I grew up watching her play video games and to this day I still love watching her instead of playing the games myself.

Someday (soon) I hope to play through and actually beat all the Zelda games. But as of right now, I only know what I know because I take the backseat when Kris plays.