Majora's Mask Mech
Written by: Sage Raziel
You thought The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time was the only game to revolutionize gaming of the 20th century? Well, you were wrong. It had a partner. The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask took all the concepts of Ocarina of Time and made them better. Introducing cut scenes like never before, and even new game engine capabilities, Majora's Mask was the pioneer of in game real time processing. To put that into simple terms; it was always processing code. Before this, video games did not maintain a constant code process. We'll get more into this a bit later.
The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask first appeared at Nintedo's SpaceWorld exhibition on August 27, 1999. This was roughly around the same time as the announcement that Nintendo had planned to make an expansion for The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, and since Majora's Mask was currently unnamed it was unclear if this was the expansion everyone had been patiently awaiting. The Ocarina of Time expansion was referred to as Ura Zelda, which translates into "Hidden Zelda". At the time this was all the game community knew. Then several months later Nintendo announced that Zelda: Gaiden was the official name of the SpaceWorld Zelda game that caught the eye of the world. This was a shock. This would mean that two new Zelda games were being produced at the same time! Ura Zelda, and Zelda: Gaiden. Immediately attention turned away from Ura Zelda, which had shown no sign of existence, to The Legend of Zelda: Gaiden. Since Nintendo never actually stated that Ura Zelda, and Zelda: Gaiden were actually two separate games, rumors began to circulate. Among these rumors were tails of Nintendo pulling the plug on Ura Zelda due to funding issues, and some were even so bold as to say that Nintendo just changed the name from Ura Zelda to Zelda: Gaiden. The truth would not be revealed for almost a year.
Finally early in the year 2000, Ura Zelda was released in Japan. This title translated to The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Master Quest outside of Japan. This release took the media by storm. They were both confused and outraged. They clearly saw this title as different than the game that was revealed at SpaceWorld in 1999. Master Quest was just a remade version of Ocarina of Time, not the creative new game they were hoping for. None the less, this satisfied the public for awhile, giving Nintendo some much needed relief from the press. Then on April 27, 2000 The Legend of Zelda: no Densetsu Mujura no Kamen was released in Japan. Nintendo revealed this was indeed the Zelda: Gaiden that the world saw at SpaceWorld. Now things were making since! Rather than Ura Zelda and Zelda: Gaiden being the same game, they were different games!!! Nintendo stated that they had changed the name to better suit the theme of the game. The game was released in North America on October 26, 200 under the title The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask.
It is still unclear if Master Quest and Majora's Mask have always been separate games or if Majora's Mask sprung up from the Master Quest project. Nintendo had been asked about this but has yet to reply. Though they did mention that the Majora's Mask project had been kept secret because of the new technology it was going to introduce. Nintendo had used Master Quest as bait to lure the press into a trap. They purposely announced both titles around the same time to keep everyone confused about which was which, or if they even existed. Anytime attention would start toward Zelda: Gaiden Nintendo would direct it toward Ura Zelda. After Master Quest was released and people saw it was not the game they had seen at SpaceWorld they wondered where that other game was. This kept Sony from getting any information on the technology until Majora's Mask was ready for the public.
While Ocarina of Time took four years to create, Majora's Mask took only two years. The same game engine was used to create the new zelda game as was used with Ocarina of Time. Majora's Mask brought a lot to the table, and really lived up to the reputation. It introduced better graphics, fewer bugs, a revolutionary draw distances more accurate dynamic lighting, more detailed textures and animation, complex frame buffer effects such as motion blur, and more characters displayed on the screen. The draw distances allowed the player to see long distances clearly. In Ocarina of Time you could not see across Hyrule Field due to the haze. This was because the game engine did not support the draw distance necessary to see long distances. Nintendo tweaked this engine to allow the player to see across Termina Field. The cut scenes were smoother and allowed for more characters on the screen at one time. In Ocarina of Time the game system would crash if too many character scripts were to be loaded at the same time, which limited the amount of characters that could be displayed on screen.
The largest technological jump Majora's Mask had made was introducing real time processing. In Ocarina of Time the game engine would load the code for the area you were in then it would stop. It would load code anytime you interacted with an object and then it would stop. In this new game the code never stopped. You see in Majora's Mask people would move and/or change position depending on the time. Events would also be affected. This required the game to always be reading code to A.) Put the people where they needed to be, and saying/doing what they needed to be at the different times throughout the game. B.) Change the events by time/day/items you own. In Ocarina of Time a character would move after you did the correct thing. The code would load right then and then stop. In Majora's Mask the code loaded automatically and constantly.
The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask has sold over 3.4 million copies since it's release in 2000. It was created to lie in the shadow of Ocarina of Time, yet it shines just as bright. Majora's Mask in considered the darkest most original game in the series. It sits 7th in ING's list of top 100 games of all time, while its brother Ocarina of Time holds 1st. On G4's list Majora's Mask is placed 4th, with Ocarina of Time placed 1st. In the end the game introduced several new concepts, a task deemed impossible since the release of Ocarina of Time, and stole the hearts of millions of fans. Majora's Mask is a wonderful addition to the series and shows that stepping outside the box of tradition can be just as fun and even more interesting than if you stick to what is expected.