Majora's Mask is a video-game made by Nintendo for their N64 system in 2000 and recently remastered for the handheld 3DS in 2015 as well. From just the opening title scene, the game is already very dark and ominous; Majora’s mask, slowly spinning, fades in -with gleaming eyes, highly saturated colors, and a blurred trailing glow, all of which strongly contrasting the solid black background- moving towards the camera until it fills the screen then drifts backwards into place, hovering between the outstretched hands of the mysterious Happy Mask Salesman, who now fades into view. The intro then shows the clock tower of Clock Town, the central city in the game, then after a brief fly through of the town, comes to rest on Skull Kid, wearing Majoras’ mask, sitting atop the clock tower with the giant menacing moon hovering above as the title fades in over the scene.
Despite being titled “The Legend of Zelda”, Majora’s Mask is one of three in the series in which the character of Zelda does not appear within the game. Instead the player follows the story of a boy named Link (though the player may input their own name if they desire), who has just returned to his proper time after the events of the previous title, The legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, in which Link has traveled seven years into the future and defeated the evil king Ganondorf and freed the land of Hyrule from his tyrannical rule.
Within the first few minutes of the game, Skull Kid has stolen both Majora’s mask and Link’s ocarina of time, transformed Link into a creature called a Deku, and is using the powers of the mask to cause the moon fall towards Clock Town, where it will crash within three days. Though Link manages to retrieve his ocarina and restore his form within the first three days, he fails to stop Skull Kid or the falling moon. However, due to the powers of the ocarina and the protection of the goddess of time, the time around you rewinds back to the dawn of first day just as the moon hits on the end of the third day. Now within a perpetual three-day-cycle, Link must find a way to stop Skull Kid from destroying the land of Termina and retrieve the stolen Majora’s Mask.
In the past, the concept of Time has been nearly absent in most forms of literature. Though one takes ‘time’ to read a book, or sit through and watch a play or film, past simply keeping track of one’s place in the storyline progression, Time itself does not influence the narrative of these works. Rather, this game is centered around the theme of Time and integrates the players own time into the narrative. During the endless three day cycle of Majora’s Mask, Time drives the story; untouched by the player, time will continue to progress through the cycle, characters will move around as they follow their routine, events will occur at the same times and places, and the moon will draw closer to Termina.
However, once the player begins interacting with the world and characters, the timeline changes for that cycle. Being in or performing an action at a specific time and specific place can prevent an event from occurring or trigger a new one, which can completely change the course of the coming days. The player’s actions within Time, both in real life and in the game, determine the outcome of the story. Whether or not you save an old lady from being mugged on a side road in the middle of the first night, if you solve the mystery behind the poisoned swamp, or if you happen to witness the Postman deliver a letter to a lady at the inn all greatly impact the story later on. Eventually, as you work your way through the various sequences and combinations of events, the player will begin piece together the story, gain new skills and powers, and awaken the ‘ancient ones’ -who had previously sealed away the masks destructive powers- that are scattered around Termina.
Majora’s Mask, with its ominous and complex story, unique aesthetics, and its perpetually cycling and changing story progression is truly a work of literature that captures the concept of Time in a way only possible through an electronic medium.