Some words from my brain to yours about whatever game has been occupying my time over the last 7 days. Once a week, EVERY week for the duration of 2015. God help us.
Of course it’s been Majora’s Mask this week.
Let’s go back in time for a bit. You see, I never had a Nintendo youth. I was a Sega kid during my formative years and up until I bought myself a GameCube in 2002 I’d be relying on the Nintendo consoles of my friends to get my Mario fix. One day in 1993, in a potentiallty life-altering turn of events, my best friend at the time (who lived down the street from me and in hindsight almost certainly had some issues on account of the amount of times he’d fly into a rage and start punching his mum) lent me his SNES for a couple of weeks along with Super Mario All Stars, Street Fighter II Turbo and, the big one, the grand master, the one and only – The Legend Of Zelda : A Link To The Past. The rest, as some people say, is history.
Except… it wasn’t. Sadly, Zelda came into my life for those two weeks and left again without leaving much of an impression on my 9 year old brain. And aside from battering through Phantom Hourglass when I first bought a DS a few years ago (where said game may or may not have been on an R4 card) my life had been Zelda free for almost all of it.
Which has been a 203 word way of admitting that I’m one heck of a late comer to one of gaming’s most beloved, enduring and God-fucking-damned excellent franchises. But 3 years ago (and for reasons I can’t really put together) I decided that enough was enough and I embarked on something of a Zelda binge. A mammoth, headlong descent into Link’s wonderful world. I’ve replayed (although my memory of it was almost non-existent) A Link To The Past and also crossed Ocarina Of Time, Link’s Awakening, A Link Between Worlds, Hyrule Warriors (is it canon?) The Wind Waker (that HD remaster – so gorgeous) and Skyward Sword off my gaming to-do list. Phew. I am full of Zelda. And it’s great. Life feels complete. I’ve also bought and read the Hyrule Historia. And, damn right, I’ve got me a Link Amiibo. Consider me a mega-fan.
And so the 3DS re-release of Majora’s Mask has undoubtedly been my most anticipated game since its announcement. Before it was revealed, I’d been tempted to grab it from the Wii’s Virtual Console store, but other games always got in the way. To be completely honest, I’d always found the concept of Majora’s Mask quite intimidating. Hugely misunderstood and ahead of its time, its time travelling, eternally looping structure had left in its wake a clutch of anecdotes that encompassed such a mixture of joy, confusion, disregard and outright hatred that I was left wondering if jumping in would be a good idea. But with the 3DS cart snugly inserted into the glistening slot of my shiny New 3DS (an essential upgrade, I’m sure you’ll agree), jump in is exactly what I did.
Turns out that it’s likely going to end up being my personal favourite of the entire Zelda series. That’s if the 6 hours I’ve put into it so far are anything to go by. Majora’s Mask, despite its enormous scope, sprawling world and its epic quest to prevent the apocalypse, feels like the most intimate of any Zelda game. The connection I’ve already established with the world and its inhabitants feels stronger and deeper than most games in general. The countless side quests that see you trying to tie up loose ends for people during their last 3 days on earth feel hugely important. These are people’s lives you’re dealing with here, in a hugely relatable way. This is no chosen one/damsel-in-distress fantasy shtick. This feel true. And uplifting and depressing and empowering and humbling. Almost nothing is permanent here; save the day for someone and the prize you’ll earn is yours to keep, and it’ll likely help you improve your chances in the main quest. But turn back the clock to give yourself the time to implement your new plan and the person you just helped is back at rock bottom. It’s all for the greater good in the end, I assume, but the effect is crushing.
It serves as one hell of a reminder that you’re just one lad, spinning a dozen plates at once, armed with a sword and an ocarina and carrying the weight of the moon on your shoulders.