Why Majora’s Mask is the best game in GameFAQ’s Game of the Decade semifinals.

GameFAQs is having a Game of the Decade contest to finish off 2010.  The final four games in the running are Final Fantasy X, Fallout 3, Super Smash Bros Brawl, and The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask.

It’s an interesting line-up.  Personally, I would’ve just picked Resident Evil 4 and be done, but there’s not much to do about it.  However, I do think Majora’s Mask is the best game out of those four for two reasons:

1. The game design in Majora’s Mask was brave, fairly original, and managed to work.

Repeating the same three days over and over again sounds bad on paper. Majora’s Mask managed to pull it off. Firstly, it fit the theme of time travel. Secondly, it fit the theme of preventing impending doom. The player would always start off in Clock Town right under the Clock Tower and watch the carpenters set up for the New Year’s Festival, but every three day sequence would play out differently – notably by completing a dungeon by the final day, and then going back in time to begin your quest to complete the next one. Going along with the theme of impending doom, the player always felt the pressure of having to complete their quest before the moon fell. Given the power to slow down time, it was the perfect mix of having enough power to triumph over the dungeons while making the player feel powerless against the moon, or rather, fate itself.

Along the way, the player could interact with Termina folk and sometimes impact what would happen to the characters in the next day. The effect this could have on the player would be downright touching sometimes.

2. Majora’s Mask nailed its intended themes better than the other games in the GotD finals

Brawl’s a fun game to play, but the Subspace Emissary felt more like a chore than an adventure with famous Nintendo characters. Fallout 3 felt more barren than it was supposed to, namely with the characters being copied straight from Oblivion.

Final Fantasy X’s fault, while not as major as the previously mentioned two, was that it carried the same worn theme of freedom of choice with fate while not doing anything particularly special with it.

To put it bluntly, people get screwed over in Majora’s Mask. The most obvious example is with the Deku butler in agony over his son, who’s stuck as a tree in the end. The fact this was even shown in the ending after Link’s victory over Majora meant Nintendo wanted the players to feel sorrow. And then add that the very next to final scene has Link back in the Lost Woods looking for Navi. Anyone who’s played Ocarina of Time would know the Lost Woods turns non-Kokiri into monsters, and Link doesn’t have Navi’s magical protection anymore.

Then there were a few subtle events that went along with the grim theme. Link is the sole witness of two ill-fated lovers as they bond in suicide, preparing for the moon to crash into the town. Link also travels to the eastern Ikana Canyon, where the undead roam, which in itself is depressing because everyone there simply wants to be put to rest.

And finally, every success done in the game is short lived, yet the player has evidence that they did in fact succeed. Got rid of the never-ending winter that the Gorons suffer through? The player get the remains of the boss in the temple as well as the new magic and tools. All the snow melts, too. However, the player has to go inevitably go back in time to avoid getting a Game Over, and everyone’s issues that the player solved in the previous three day sequence have returned. The player still has their upgrades, but every problem has returned. The Gorons are back to freezing to death again.

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