Legend of Zelda, The: Majora’s Mask (Review) (2000)
What a magnificent piece of work The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time was: closest to the nigh-perfect A Link to the Past in scope, one of the finest transitions from 2D to 3D that there’s been, and almost as infinitely replayable as its SNES forerunner. It marked the fifth Zelda game, and was a continuation of the high standards the series had set, along with the fantastic Link’s Awakening and the fondly remembered 2 NES originals.
Ocarina of Time was a game that, for the majority of people, lived up to the immense hype borne from agonising delays. The Legend of Zelda had really become a juggernaut series, and the fans clamoured for a sequel – although given Ocarina’s development time it seemed likely that they’d have to wait for the next Nintendo console.
Towards the end of the Nintendo 64’s lifespan, however, screenshots of a game that appeared to be an Ocarina of Time reskin emerged, with a funny sort of sundial at the bottom of the screen. It looked for all the world like an expansion pack of Ocarina of Time – and indeed, that’s what Majora’s Mask was originally conceived as. Fresh from his role as assistant director with Ocarina of Time, Eiji Aonuma was charged with the task of releasing a follow-up game in the same mould in just one year. The result, naturally, would have to be a condensed Zelda adventure, but could at least borrow elements from its older brother. Could Majora’s Mask stand up against Ocarina of Time? Would it take its place proudly alongside the other fine games of the series?
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The following review is based on the Nintendo GameCube version of the game.
I remember the launch of the Nintendo GameCube very well, and just couldn’t wait to try it out. Graphics far removed from those limited polygons of the Nintendo 64, the polygons that still heavily impressed us at the time. A whole treat of fabulous and diverse looking new games was in store for us in the beginning, including Luigi’s Mansion, Super Smash Bros. Melee and Rogue Squadron II. Even the long overdue change from cartridge format to disc gave us cause to celebrate.
Those games were all well and good, but gamers looking for the signature Nintendo charm might not have been fully impressed with Luigi’s Mansion, especially considering its shortness and the timeless Mario launch titles of previous Nintendo consoles. Super Smash Bros. Melee, as well as other franchise entries like Metroid Prime, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker and Super Mario Sunshine, were a ways away. With the console fighting to gain ground from the beginning, it would take a gentle nurturing from Nintendo to ensure that the GameCube would be able to fight against the Xbox and the Sony PlayStation 2.
Up stepped Pikmin, a most unusual looking game, originally looked upon as a strange gardening simulator. Founded on the doomed beginnings of the fabled Super Mario 128, when Pikmin was showed to the world during E3 in 2001 gamers saw a low key strategy title that seemed almost quaint. It looked like something that would surely be dismissed as a novelty upon release – a whimsical tech demo and not much else. But with the fabulous Shigeru Miyamoto producing, would such an assumption prove to be folly? Would Pikmin emerge as one of the finest early lights of the underrated GameCube?
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