Thinking back to the beaches I’ve ventured through in most video games, most of my memories range from pleasant to joyful. Rolling watermelons on Super Mario Sunshine’s Gelato Beach, soaring across the skies of Banjo-Kazooie’s Treasure Trove Cove, speeding across Sonic Adventure’s Emerald Coast and hanging with friends on Kingdom Hearts’ Destiny Islands.
As we all know, of course, Majora’s Mask isn’t “most video games”. so you can trust this game to make even a beach seem morbid.
In real life, the sight of an empty beach on a reasonably warm day is an inviting one for many people. In the land of Termina, where your first view of the Great Bay Coast ocean features a floating body, the concept suddenly becomes unappealing, and the desolation understandable.
That’s right, before the poor lad even has time to apply sun lotion, Link’s first task involves dragging the lifeless body of Mikau back to shore, before listening to the guitarist’s final ballad and easing him into the afterlife with the Song of Healing.
As if a death and a subsequent burial weren’t enough to sour the prospect of a holiday, monsters are thriving everywhere. The slimy, sand-dwelling Leevers burrow from beneath the ground and strike Link at a face pace. There’s a sign on the beach that prohibits visitors from swimming because the water is murky, but frankly, that’s the least of Link’s aquatic concerns.
The waters are home to the skeletal, piranha-like Skullfish that aim for our hero’s flesh, and the loathsome Like Likes awaiting their next meal on the ocean floor. If you manage to get past those, there are terrifyingly huge sea snakes that await in Pinnacle Roc, known as Deep Pythons. Until this game came along, I thought the eel in Super Mario 64 was scary.
But enough of all this evil; how about some friendly faces? The Marine Research Laboratory is home to a scientist who, despite his intimidating appearing and eccentric mannerisms, appears to be a thoughtful chap. He raises fish and keeps Zora eggs in his aquarium, saving them from harm due to the abnormal rise in the water’s temperature.
The hut on the coast houses a fisherman who tells Link he has been fishing for 30 years. Okay, he’s not very humble, claiming to be the best fisherman than any of the Zoras. He also has a weird obsession with the Gerudo pirates, sending Link on a mission to snap a photo of one of them in exchange for his seahorse. At least his hut seems cozy.
The company’s not so bad, then — until you spot Tingle floating in the air. Time to find a different spot. The dead fish-man and roaming monsters were a bit of a nuisance but, that guy’s just plain weird.
It’s the vast sense of disparity present in the Great Bay Coast that makes it so memorable to me. Seagulls thrive and sing in the blue skies above, while death awaits in the ocean below. The beach towels and parasols indicate signs of activity, but there is no one in sight. The palm trees conjure thoughts of sunshine, which fade when you look at the cursed moon that looms over them. It’s a beach that looks inviting from a distance, yet is surrounded by anguish when you get there.
The clashing of tones is even present in the music. Steel drums usually evoke a cheerful tone in music, but when combined with the eerie sounds of the sitar and organ, the resulting sound is incredibly melancholic, and thus perfectly embodies the Great Bay Coast.
An unforgettable day at the seaside would typically be a day of leisure and joy. My trip to the Great Bay Coast involved monsters, death, and the impending apocalypse. For that, it’s my favorite video game beach of all time.