So I just spent nearly an entire week playing through Majora's Mask, and I realized I must've quit playing that game somewhere around the Water/Zora Temple part back when it first came out.
I've got that empty feeling you get when you finish a good book. It was fun to run into parts I didn't recognize at all. And with how good it looks on the 2DS, I had to keep reminding myself that it's over a decade old.
It seems really obvious now, but I never noticed how Marjora's Mask is sort of the epilogue to Ocarina of Time. Same game engine, recurring OoT characters — like the mask shop dude and Skull Kid — and a lot of the same OoT core tunes.
I suppose it was necessary then to change something to make the game feel fresh, and so Termina replaces Hyrule, Majora('s mask/demonic essence) fills in for Ganon, and Zelda's role is just left out.
But despite the new setting, the ghost of OoT looms tantalizingly over MM. Some dialogue refers vaguely to events in OoT, implying that Clock Town Link and the Hero of Time are one in the same.
Ultimately this connection is left unconfirmed. And even though players will recognize MM as an obvious continuation of OoT, the in-game ambiguity of their relationship preserves a kind of mysterious aura about both games.
MM's opening and closing cutscenes are of Link riding Epona through a dark, foggy forest. And as a player, you can't help but wonder where his destination is, why he's going there, and whether that's even the same Link you suspect it is. It's the enchantment of OoT's world that begs those questions.
Without its predecessor's specter teasing my imagination, MM's decidedly dark and other-worldly ambience might not be as intoxicating as it was for me. I could just gorge myself on both these games' music and mythology.
In fact, I probably will.
Lucas' Nerd Editor Note: Nintendo has actually teased the connection between Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask pretty strongly over the years, strongly implying, if not outright declaring, that MM is a direct sequel to OoT and both star the same "Hero of Time" Link. According to the "official Zelda timeline" that Nintendo concocted for The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia (2013) art book, the two games' stories are sequential, and MM is then followed by Zelda: Twilight Princess.
One of my absolute favorite fan theories—and one that I think has a lot of evidence indicating it is accurate—is that after OoT, young (again) Link wanders into the Lost Woods, never to be seen again. The events of MM, they say, are just playing out in Link's mind as he comes to grips with his own mortality and inevitable death. If that sounds remotely interesting to you, I recommend googling it. The theory even ties in a direct connection to Twilight Princess that's pretty rad.
Certainly the darker tone of MM lends credence to the game being a rumination on mortality. The land is called Termina, the game's overarching mechanics are about reliving the same three days over and over until the apocalypse, and the story begins with the words "You've met with a terrible fate, haven't you?". Like any great art, there's a lot there to discuss, but it does make for some truly dark ambience.