Let’s send a symphony around America, playing the best tracks that Zelda has to offer! Let’s make a sequel to ALttP, revolutionizing the way players progress and obtain items! Let’s remake one of the darkest, most emotional and enthralling installments of the franchise, answering the prayers of Zelda fans everywhere! Which one of these does not sound like the others? If you picked the last one, then you would be correct.
Fans are adamant in their desire for Majora’s Mask to be recreated, and their passion has been acknowledged by various Zelda creators (including Shigeru Miyamoto) on numerous occasions. While Nintendo officials may subtly allude to there being a possibility of a remake, so far there is no official statement regarding the game. But now Wind Waker has been remade, for the Wii U. Ocarina of Time preceded it for the 3DS. Surely, Majora’s Mask is next on the list? Especially since the game took a year and a half to finish for N64 (speed unprecedented by today’s development standards), the same scraps they used from OoT can logically be pulled from OoT3D.
So what’s stopping them?
Ocarina of Time sold 7.6 million cartridges worldwide for the N64. Majora’s Mask sold essentially half that, reaching 3.36 million. The 3DS iteration of OoT sold 3 million worldwide, forecasting 1.5 million potential sales for MM. It is likely that this number is not high enough to warrant the effort needed to re-release the game. Curiously, a remake of Super Mario Sunshine has yet to be discussed, a GCN game that sold 6.3 million copies. A dark horse of the 3D Mario franchise for the direction it took in its gameplay (sound familiar?), perhaps Nintendo also fears lack of interest if they were to remake that as well. Considering that Nintendo has made a point to re-release as many pivotal games in their library as possible, the current omission of both Sunshine and MM is a bad sign for any fans interested in the games.
Only 1,000 of these were released, resulting in a bundle so rare you can’t even find it on Ebay.
It’s too dark
Majora’s Mask was a love-letter to Nintendo’s more mature audiences, including themes of love, death and destruction that carry the gameplay and narrative from beginning til’ end. Nintendo, in its current age, likes to keep things light. While Twilight Princess had a world submerged in darkness, the citizens never really clued into their mortality. Skyward Sword threw Link and Zelda into perilous situations, but ended adorably with smiles all around.
Majora’s Mask, however, had a couple rushing a wedding so they could be married before being annihilated. It had Talon drugging her younger sister so she would be numb to the immense pain that awaited her when the moon pummeled into Termina. Heck, the entire world was named after “terminal” which, when defined, means: final, ending, ultimate, fatal, mortal, and lethal! For a company that values its younger audience, running the risk of alienating them with these themes might be more trouble than its worth.
Hint: he’s not talking about waffles.
It’s too damn confusing
It’s a new era for Nintendo; one in which they are worried that players might put down their controllers permanently once confused. In an earlier era of the gaming market, there was no choice but to buy another game with Nintendo being perhaps the only key distributor in the industry. But now, Sony, Microsoft, and even tablets threaten their hold of the market share by offering more simple games. To remedy this fear of being too difficult, they have included hints and easy modes in every game that could possibly take more than one try to beat. MM is a game that redefines confusion. Many masks exist in obscure locations, requiring vexing puzzles and tests in order to be unlocked. Not to mention the fairies, the consistent demand to roll back the clock, and the inability to save when you want to. Including a hint system might not even be enough! There’s too much going on, and any explanation system might need an explanation system to explain itself.
Yay! Now what?
Zelda is missing
Nintendo is definitely warming up to its princess. Zelda has been gaining a bigger and bigger role in the games as the series has progressed. In the beginning, she was relegated to a very minor role: finish the game, and you may get a glimpse of her. OoT included her in a dramatic way, giving her importance and strength in a way that delightfully established her character. MM then took it all away, displaying her only in a brief flashback. This strengthened the games plot: you aren’t focused on Zelda anymore, as there is an unrelated force threatening the world with destruction. Nintendo has incorporated Zelda very well in the past few games. She’s become a pirate, aided Link in battle, and has a general presence in the story from start to finish. By releasing Majora’s Mask, it would be a step in the wrong direction. The younger fan base would be confused and perhaps misinterpret Zelda’s importance to the series. And if Nintendo is eying a release of Zelda starring in her very own video game, her omission from a remake might take the winds out of their sails.
So is Majora’s Mask doomed?
After reviewing the facts, it’s a vexing question. Instinctively, one would have to argue, no–Nintendo would never be so dumb as to not release one of the greatest games of its greatest franchises. But after taking everything into consideration, it’s clear that everything MM represents is a gamble and could seriously make the clear waters of the franchise murky if the new audience were to be confused by the game. By allowing it to exist in the background and let individual fans discover it, Nintendo can point to the game as its teenage angsty period without much consequence. But there is hope.
Oh, that thing? Apparently it can destroy the world or something. 50 rupees and it’s yours!
The fact that Nintendo averages 5 years per new release for the console system means that they will have plenty of time to reconsider whether or not a remake is necessary to whet the appetite of ravenous Zelda fans. And hey, with the easter egg of Majora’s Mask hanging on the wall in A Link Between Worlds, maybe they are one step closer to bringing the dream of many Zelda fans into reality.