Time flies when you aren’t living the same three-day cycle over and over again. If you only had 72 hours left on Earth what would you do? Well, some Nintendo addicts are sure to head straight to their game’s room, dust off a copy of The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, and put it straight in the cartridge slot.
While some people may call Breath of the Wild the best Zelda game ever, and the rest of us are largely in the Ocarina of Time camp, the likes of Wind Waker, Twilight Princess, and Skyward Sword go largely unmentioned. However, away from the latest innovations, there is one Zelda game that stands out from the pack. Just where would we be without Majora’s Mask?
As the black sheep of the family, and including everything from aliens to a transforming Link, Majora’s Mask was a trippy three-day bender that stole a place in all our hearts. Still, after battling moons, Skull Kid, and the Four Masked Beasts: Odolwa, Goht, Gyorg, and Twinmold, there is probably a fair bit that you may have missed.
Whether it be Wii remotes, useless paper airplanes, cameos from other Nintendo heroes, or even just a subtle irony that flew over your little green cap, here are 15 Things You Didn't Know About Majora's Mask.
There are many peculiar characters in the Zelda series - murderous moon aside - but few are as unnerving as the Happy Mask Salesman. The creepy and erratic purveyor of masks first appeared in Ocarina of Time but went on to have a much larger role in Majora’s Mask.
Setting the whole series of events into motion, the cursed Majora’s Mask was stolen from Happy when he was ambushed by Skull Kid at the start of the game. If you have ever wondered where you might have the Happy Mask Salesman's grinning face before, perhaps it is because he is based on the character’s creator, and in fact the grandfather of the Zelda franchise, Shigeru Miyamoto.
With the same ear-to-ear grin and matching hairstyles, once you hear the news, you will never be able to shake that the two are doppelgangers. Beyond just looks, Happy’s mantra is to sell masks to people to bring them joy, while in comparison, Miyamoto sells us Zelda games for the same reason. Let’s just hope Skull Kid isn’t based on anyone!
The Nintendo 3DS update of Majora’s Mask came 15 years after the original, and as well as a graphics update, it also gave us a whole new cave of mysteries to explore.
Romani Ranch served as Majora’s version of Lon Lon Ranch from Ocarina, however, you may spot a few nods to its predecessor lurking in the corners. Upstairs as Mama's House in Romani Ranch, eagle-eyed gamers can spot some equine Easter eggs. While you may be able to find a cutesy Epona doll above the mantle, there is also a much darker toy knocking around.
The doll is clearly a stuffed copy of Ganondorf’s stallion from Ocarina of Time. You may remember the terrifying beast that reared in front of us in the game’s opening. With its burning red eyes, no wonders someone threw it down the side of the bed.
Forget The Beatles, Majora’s Mask gave us its very own superstar rock group - just minus the record sales. Introduced in the sea shell-shaped Zora’s Hall, the aquatic species spend their days listening to the Indigo-Gos. While gamers may not have heard of any of their songs, you should recognize some familiar sounds.
Taking a tour of the area, you may hear some soothing songs playing in the various bedrooms. We meet the members of the Indigo-Gos, who are playing some classic Zelda music. The main hall plays the melodic Zora’s Domain music, but that is just the start.
As we delve deeper into the realm, Tijo, the manta ray drummer, blasts out the cave theme from A Link to the Past. The floppy-haired Japas is strumming the dungeon music from The Legend of Zelda, while Evan the pianist plays the rather grim “Game Over” from the same game.
While all this might seem like enough musical nostalgia, the Indigo-Gos are known for their song "The Ballad of the Wind Fish”, which shares its name with the song used to awaken the Wind Fish in Link’s Awakening. We are still waiting for that band tour and we may be waiting a lot longer.
If you want to change your appearance or have a masquerade ball coming up, the Happy Mask Salesman has you covered. When we first met Happy in Hyrule, he had a mere eight masks, and the only useful one is the Mask of Truth to talk to Gossip Stones.
When we next see him in Majora’s Mask, his collection has grown slightly. Among the 24 official masks of the game, you may spot that he has a familiar face strapped to the back of his pack. Seemingly to make the jump from the sewers to Termina, Mario himself is clearly seen in mask form.
So how did Happy get a Mario mask and what does it mean? Well, no one knows, but it would presumably have some dark backstory if it was anything more than a clever Easter egg.
There is even the terrifying Reddit theory that Happy collects his masks by skinning victims and claiming their faces. Macabre even for Majora’s Mask, it would certainly explain how he got Mario’s face, just that the pasta-loving plumber has also perished.
Alongside Mario masks and stuffed horses, there are many other useless objects littered through the game. For many years, we have heard of and hunted for an elusive paper airplane. Perhaps the most puzzling item of the game, Nintendo has never explained what it means or how it got there.
Deep in the heart of Ikana Canyon, we head inside the ancient Ikana Castle and into one of the game’s dungeons. Inhabited by the spooky ReDeads and Floormasters, it looks like the aftermath hasn’t stopped the various monster inside from indulging in some origami. One theory is that when Ikana thrived before being inhabited by the dead, it was filled with children. Just like Link, the kids loved to play around and probably threw it up there many years before.
Atop one of the pillars in the south-east part of the courtyard, you can find the paper airplane. Although Link can walk right up to it, it still has no use. Some fans teased that the airplane had been removed for the 3DS version, but thankfully it is still there in all its paper glory in both versions of the game.
It seems that Link wasn’t the only one wanted to take one small step for man and land on the moon in Majora’s Mask. Why anyone would want to visit such a monstrous place is beyond us, but some poor fools of Termina wanted to vacation to that terrifying terrain. Well, it seems that the Bomb Shop owner was planning on heading there-- possibly on a suicide mission to stop the moon crashing to Earth.
While solely selling and inventing bombs may not qualify you to be an astronaut, the owner planned on using bomb power to send himself to the moon. Plans were sketchy at first and mainly involved a mask filled with gunpowder - which sounds like a recipe for disaster - however, he had at least thought ahead.
When we return in the 3DS version, it seems that Bomb Shop’s plans have advanced a lot. This time, instead of just a note about his expedition, you can find actual sketches on the wall of a rocket and a successful landing/discovery of a chest. Presumably, he never made it there and was beaten by NASA.
The 3DS didn’t just add a few tweaks to the artwork of Majora’s Mask, it also added a totally new character and a secret boss. The fishy Lord Jabu-Jabu became a favorite of Ocarina as we poked around inside him to rescue Princess Ruto, but did you know that his smaller counterpart pops up in Majora’s?
Caught in the Swamp Fishing Hole, it is thought that Chapu-Chapu came from the original idea to bring back Jabu-Jabu for a sequel. Miyamoto said that there was supposed to be an enhanced fishing game where players could even capture Jabu and halt the fall of the moon. Although none of this made it into the 2000 version, there are rumors that this inspired the creation of Chapu for the update.
Though his capture has no effect on the game, and he is significantly smaller than Jabu, Chapu-Chapu is still notoriously hard to capture. The thing with the Zelda games is that you either love or loathe the fishing aspect. If you want to catch yourself a Chapu-Chapu, head down to the swamp, but be warned, it takes hours of patient fishing.
Does anyone remember the short-lived iQue Player from China? Nope, neither do we. A joint venture between Nintendo and iQue limited, the console was created to stop the piracy of games by porting them. Unsurprisingly, no more than 12,000 units were ever sold in China.
The concept was a controller that plugged directly into the TV and looked like a techy hybrid of the N64 and Gamecube models. Fourteen games were ported to it, and although Ocarina got a release on the console, Majora’s Mask never quite made it. Apparently, the game and its menacing moon were a little on the dark side amidst fears that video games were becoming too violent.
Pictures of Majora’s Mask even featured on the back of the box for the iQue, but it was deemed too mature for Chinese audiences. It reportedly violated the country’s censorship laws and was ultimately canned - we can’t see why at all!
If you are more of an animal person that a people person, Mario wasn’t the only Nintendo stalwart who made a cameo. Once again in mask form, can you spot the lineup of Star Fox and his crew as another Easter wgg?
On the mask collection screen, you can clearly see the masks of a fox, bird, rabbit, frog, and a pig. For those who aren't up to speed, it seems to be a representation of Fox, Falco, Peppy, Slippy, and Pigma. First released in 1993, Star Fox (Starwing in Europe) was a rail shooter published on SNES. Following the adventures of Fox McCloud in the Lylat system, did the anthropomorphic animals also make it over to Termina?
Over the years there have been seven games, numerous cancelled titles, and a team-up of sorts in the Smash Bros. series, but no official Zelda crossover. While it is a nice idea, Majora’s director Eiji Aonuma has since said in an interview that it is all just a coincidence. While he accepts that some clever coder may have inserted the Star Fox Easter egg, it wasn’t under the instructions of the development team.
First announced at a press conference in 1999, Nintendo revealed that they were working on a follow-up to the N64 after the flop of the 64DD magnetic disc drive. Although the GameCube was released in 2001, it didn’t stop hints of the console to come in Majora’s Mask.
Originally nicknamed “Project Dolphin,” if you look close enough, you can see a reference to the console’s early days in Majora’s Mask. In the astral observatory, anyone keen to go on a smashing spree will see the drawing of a dolphin under one of the pots.
Heading to the bottom floor, the cluster of pots can be found on the wall opposite the staircase. Although it is a pixelated picture, you can clearly see an aquatic dolphin.
Although Majora’s Mask was just before the era of the GameCube, the console actually had three Zelda games released on it. The GameCube included the highly popular Wind Waker and Twilight Princess - which was later transferred to the Wii also.
Majora’s Mask ended up as its own Groundhog Day as we were forced to live the same three-day cycle and over again. While the mechanic became synonymous with the game and its unique selling point, it could sometimes become frustrating. We all frantically scrawled down notes of who would be where and what quest we needed to complete, so just imagine if the game was over twice as long!
Developer Eiji Aonuma revealed that there was originally meant to be a week-long version of the game. It reportedly stemmed from a project that Aonuma had been working on in the ‘90s. It was a "cops and robbers" style format where you had a week to catch the crook (actually under the timeframe of an hour).
Although the game was cancelled, Aonuma was keen to move some of his ideas over to Majora’s. Given that there was an ample amount of material in the finished game - despite needing possibly a few more dungeons - it is hard to imagine a game that would’ve filled a full week. However, by losing four of the seven days, it does explain how we are left with elements like Chapu-Chapu and the various other Easter eggs.
If stealing his face wasn’t bad enough, Zelda had to go and steal Mario’s lyrical genius too. The little-known song “Farewell to Gibdos” may sound familiar, but perhaps it is because it was ripped straight from Super Mario 64.
It may be one of the few non-playable Zelda songs, however, you can hear the tune if you play the "Song of Swords" to Sharp the composer in the Spring Water Cave. The cheerful melody forces any of the rotting Gibdos to retreat back to their graves and also forces Sharp to let the spring water flow again.
As for Mario, “Farewell to Gibdos” may spark memories of riding the Merry-Go-Round in Big Boo’s Haunt. Although there are slight differences, both songs use the same haunting melody. Does this mean that Majora’s Mask is a follow-up to our plump plumber, or maybe even a prequel, and that the Gibdos could just bee Boos in waiting?
If being banned for being too violent was bad enough, Majora’s Mask had a wholly different undercurrent of misery. With five main locations in the story, the whole game is an allegory for the five stages of grief. While it may not be the most cheerful of thoughts, the idea is a lot clearer to than you think.
Our arc is basically Link coming to terms with the absence of Navi. Clock Town represents denial as the villagers refuse to accept that the giant moon will soon crush them, while the Deku of Woodfall show anger in believing that a monkey has stolen their princess.
In Snowhead, the newly deceased Goron Darmani tries to bargain with Link to keep his people safe, then we meet the depressed Lulu who has her eggs stolen in Great Bay. Finally, we reach Ikana Valley and acceptance, where Link finds no news masks and is finally free to complete his quest.
Even Aonuma has said that each area clearly has a defined emotion to it, however, he stopped short of confirming, “Yes, it is five stages of grief.” Well, it is still better than the "Link is dead" theory.
Skull Kid may not be as villainous as the pointy-nosed Ganondorf, but boy, is he more annoying. As the de facto villain of Majora’s Mask, just what is his deal?
Remembering back to Ocarina, there were actually three Skull Kids, but only one returned for Majora’s. One of the biggest mysteries surrounding the sequel game is Skull Kid’s motive and whether he really is the true villain.
Perhaps something tragic steered him on such a mischievous path, like, oh say,the near-destruction of Hyrule? As Link and Skull make friends at the end of Majora’s Mask, it is highly implied that he met Link in Ocarina of Time. Skull Kid says to Link: “You have the same smell as the fairy kid who taught me that song in the woods…”
It seems cut and dry that it is the same kid from the Lost Woods, however, there are conspiracy theorists that think that the “fairy kid” Skull refers to could actually be Saria. The franchise probably wouldn’t go the effort of creating even more identical Skull Kids, but you never know, Majora’s version could be the evil twin of the one who Link taught “Saria’s Song.”
You may try and knock Zelda as a childish franchise for the kids, but it actually finds its place steeped in ancient laws about gods and monsters. Majora’s Mask is particularly culturally relevant, with the whole premise hinted at being based off the ancient Marajoara civilization.
Flourishing on Marajó island at the mouth of the Amazon, the Marajoara were particularly active between 800 AD and 1400 AD before perishing into the colonial era. Known for their intricate paintings and artefacts, it certainly looks that the civilization was the inspiration for Majora’s Mask.
While it may be a nice theory, there is little to link the Marajoara people and the Japanese Nintendo company. However, the Marajoara do have several masks that look strikingly similar to that pesky mask which the game is named after - unfortunately, we can’t confirm if they used them for evil doings and knocking the moon out of orbit.
Before you decide to live the same three days over and over again, don't forget to sound off in the comments about which was your favorite fact about Majora's Mask!