Honorable Mention in Horror – The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask
Many people probably remember the sudden dark twist in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, I was a kid at the time and when I was suddenly in that once cheerful town, now filled with hideous monsters, I felt really creeped out. Then in the year 2000 Majora’s Mask showed up, a game that had exactly that same feel to it, except this time it was not just for a few minutes, but for the entire length of the game.
In Majora’s Mask the player once again takes control over Link, a young boy clad in a green tunic and armed with an arsenal of medieval weapons. As he travels through the forest on his horse one day, he is ambushed by two fairies and a Stranger wearing an odd, almost satanic mask. After the stranger steals his horse Link gives chase, but he accidentally enters a portal which takes him to the magical world of Termina (as opposed to Hyrule, where he actually lives and most of the games take place). It turns out the demon who stole Link’s stuff is up to no good and Link has to travel around Termina in order to awake it’s deities from their slumber and put a stop to “Skull Kid’s plans.
The Legend of Zelda franchise has always been about Link going on an adventure and this sixth installment is no exception. As Link you travel around Termina and solve puzzles in order to progress through the story, but where do the scary elements come in? Well, the entire game runs on a timer; Link has a total of three in-game days to awake all the deities before Skull Kid completes his demonic scheme and causes a moon with a face to crash into Termina, destroying it completely and murdering everybody in it. What makes it even scarier is that as time passes by, the moon keeps coming closer and closer to the earth, a clever little touch that makes sure you are always aware of the ticking clock.
Aside from that, there are also a lot of smaller things that the game keeps piling up, the most noteworthy of which is the statue you can summon by playing a song. This statue is just…, that empty gaze just pierces right through your soul; I don’t want to think about that thing ever again. Of course there are also the masks that transform Link into different characters (such as a big stone warrior); essentially this wouldn’t really be scary if it wasn’t accompanied by a cutscene that showed Link screaming in agony. However the finishing touch for me is the fact the game features an unmatched amount of death, not only does everybody die if you fail to complete your task, but the masks transform Link into the people he took it from, people that he found and had to put out of their misery. Such a dark task is already very impressive for a game most people played at the age of eight, but the story requires the player to interact with the people who knew the character Link transformed in, forcing him to lie and making them believe that their loved ones are still there with them.
It has been eleven years since Majora’s Mask launched, but still it has a place in my hearth and I am convinced that it deserves a spot on our small “honorable mentions” list, I am sure many of the people who grew up with Nintendo in the late 90′s agree with me. Majora’s Mask, you are one messed up game. Welcome to the list.