Things aren’t looking good for the land of Termina. A masked Skull Kid with mysterious powers has brought misfortune to a number of people who live here. Worse yet, the moon is inexplicably falling to Earth, and unless someone – preferably a young boy garbed in green – does something about it, the world will be destroyed in just three days.
The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask is set some months after the end of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, which was Link’s first outing on the N64. Both games share the same engine and many of the same assets, a deliberate move by Nintendo to reduce the development time of the game to just one year (whereas Ocarina of Time had taken four).
Majora’s Mask differs greatly from its predecessor in terms of gameplay. The game tasks you as Link with stopping the moon’s descent to Earth. To do this, you must explore four dungeons and defeat a boss that resides in each one. The only problem is that you can’t actually achieve all of this in the three days you have before the moon will crash.
As a result, you must use the magically imbued Ocarina of Time (which Link acquired in the last game) to repeatedly travel three days back in time to achieve everything. You can take certain items back with you, which you’ll need to progress, but otherwise your actions or any events that have taken place will reset. This makes for a unique challenge in the Legend of Zelda series, where time management is just as important as solving puzzles and completing dungeons.
A core element of this game is the ability to equip Link with special masks that transform him into different creatures. Doing so gives Link different powers and abilities, which you use to beat puzzles and certain enemies.
Four dungeons may seem like a small number for a Legend of Zelda game, but Majora’s Mask makes up for this by placing a heavy emphasis on side quests. These smaller diversions are typically mini-quests of their own, requiring you to interact with a range of characters and explore areas of Termina that you otherwise wouldn’t have seen.
Majora’s Mask is one of the few N64 games that requires the Nintendo 64 Expansion Pak. It is generally believed that this is because the game was originally intended for the Nintendo 64DD add-on (which itself required the Expansion Pak to work). The game’s visuals benefit from the additional 4MB of RAM, featuring greater draw distances and improved lighting and textures compared to Ocarina of Time.
Since it was first released in 2000, Majora’s Mask has been re-released in its original form on both Nintendo’s Wii and Wii U consoles. A remastered version of the game was released in 2015 for the Nintendo 3DS. This release features improved graphics with support for autostereoscopic 3D and minor gameplay tweaks.
The original N64 game sold around 3.36 million copies worldwide.