There are a few great rivalries in our world. Coke or Pepsi? Chocolate or vanilla? Cake or pie? (BOTH – the answer is both!) But there is one rivalry that never fails to divide gamers everywhere: The classic Legend of Zelda debate: Ocarina of Time or Majora’s Mask?
It’s a fight that’s been known to end friendships and end family ties all across humanity. Two darlings of the Nintendo 64 console generation have proven to be fantastic in their own rights, but some fans simply feel stronger about one installment of the franchise or the other. With the recent release of Majora’s Mask 3D on the 3DS and New 3DS consoles, there’s never been a better time to revisit two games that many claim to be some of the best of all time.
Ocarina of Time
I still remember the first time I played Ocarina of Time. My best friend and I stumbled across the cartridge in her basement, put it in her Nintendo 64, and watched in amazement as we took turns playing for hours, riding around Hyrule Field, constantly finding plenty to do and various places to explore.
That was the beauty of OOT for many video gamers – it showed what games could be and what they could do. It As far as action games were, it was unprecedented and set the bar for what features they would go onto include for the years after. It remains the inspiration for many of the Zelda sequels for the future as well as hundreds of other video game series that would come to be.
From the first moments in Link’s village to the final battle with Ganondorf and all the dungeons between, every moment felt amazing in OOT. I can still easily recall some of the quests and puzzles from the game’s most memorable settings (Let’s not talk about water temple…)
OOT remains the highest rated game of all time, with a critical score of 99/100 on Metacritic and is often found near or at the top of many lists for the best games of all time. Even when re-released on the Nintendo 3DS in 2011, the game still held it’s own on a handheld device.
There’s so much about Ocarina that’s iconic. It’s a game that doesn’t leave your mind quickly, or if ever. I can instantly hear the music from Hyrule Field theme playing in my head anytime I’d like (of course, not without a few interjections by Navi).
Where I instantly fell in love with Ocarina of Time, I was less thrilled by the first setup of Majora’s Mask. A repeating three-day cycle? Time ticking down on my screen? Playing as other characters by putting on a mask? None of it sat right with me when, but looking back, I realize how special it truly was.
In a world today where most console Zeldas contain some formula of an over world, dungeons, items, and so on, Majora’s Mask is probably the least “Zelda”-like of all the games in the series. A giant moon in the sky threatening the end of the world is definitely the darkest tale the series has ever told to date. It’s also worth mentioning the game’s setting of Termina – a mysterious, different land than the Hyrule of Ocarina.
The game itself offers 24 different masks to collect, and an abundance of side quests to explore and complete, despite having fewer number of dungeons than Ocarina. Time plays a pivotal role in the game, with new songs allowing for slowing it down, but fighting a boss with just minutes left before the 72 hour cycle ends leads to stress unmatched by any other Zelda game.
So I guess what I’m trying to say is Majora’s Mask stands out because of the risks Nintendo took in making it. Coming out intitally just 18 months after Ocarina of Time, it proved to be a truly new game for fans and provided what is arguably the most unique experience from Zelda to date.
Choosing a favorite Zelda is like choosing a favorite kid. It can be tough, and you know the answer, but it’s something you shouldn’t ever say out loud. Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask both were high achievers in the N64 era, and both are worth a play through, whether it’s the original console version or on a smaller screen on a 3DS. Do you have a definitive answer for which game is your winner? Let us know below and keep it here for all things Legend of Zelda and Majora’s Mask 3D!