Resolution: Majora’s Mask, Part 2

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That’s right it is finally here! It’s the return of relatively regular posts about my New Year’s resolution to avoid killing in video games. We are returning with the second half of my write up for Majora’s Mask 3DS.

Disclaimer: To maintain my steam of consciousness writing style, I did not look up the names for anything I’m talking about. I then didn’t edit it after ward because I think it might make the post more accessible, and is more funny written that way.

So jumping right in I’m going to admit I didn’t get as much progress in the game as I would have liked in the main quest line. I pretty much had just started the swamp story line, having met the Deku King and the monkey he’s pissed off at. After that I got to an area with giant mosquitos, one of whom I accidentally killed by shooting out of one of those giant flower things. If anyone seriously tries to suggest I should have known that would happen because it’s obvious, I recommend they reread that sentence.

So that brings the year’s kill count to 4. That’s 2 humans, 1 orc, and 1 giant mosquito.

There were other instances where I did combat with enemies before this, but didn’t think they counted as killing. The goo like creatures I assumed weren’t actually dying, but just reforming when they respawned. The giant skull spiders I’m fairly sure are some undead creature, because it’s a big skull! I shall remind you that I do not care what Hyrule Historia says they are. That’s EU as far as I’m concerned.

Since this one was an accident, I progressed a little farther in the game, hoping to have learned from that. But then I got to a bridge with a single enemy on it, that took up the width of the bridge. I used a magic attack to see if maybe I could just knock it off, but instead it just took damage. So to progress in the game any farther I’d have to decide if Termina was a real world or fake, to justify killing in the world. After reflecting on the game experience up till that point, I honestly believe it’s both.

Up until that point every event and character in Termina felt off. They felt uncanny, not quite real but not an obvious lie either. Another way to put it was that everything felt like it was both the thing in front of me, but also a metaphor for something else entirely more nebulous. I think this is the second game I would really compare to a poem, in that everything seemed just drenched in symbolic weight. (The first is El Shaddai) All the while still also being the thing depicted. It reminds me of anecdote that I think is about Robert Frost, about his public readings of Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening. As the story goes, any time some one asked a question about the “meaning” of a part of the poem, he’d simply read the poem again. My understanding of this was that the poem was holistic. The form, the meaning, the diction all create one package, and trying to separate out the meaning part would make it something lesser.

You know what another metaphor for Majora’s Mask would be? A thing that is both itself but also representing something completely different? One complicated thing disguised as a simpler thing? I’m sure you do, because everyone in the world played this game before me ten years ago. I’m talking about masks. Yes, ten years late to the party I get a semblance of the relevance of masks in the game that has the word “mask” in the title. It is a clever idea though. To me the ideas of masks are used as a metaphor for metaphors, to kind of kick start the player to look at the aspects of the game beyond face value.

I think this might be at least the beginning of a discussion of why this game more than most has so many fan interpretations, while being fairly linear and straight forward in it’s narrative and gameplay. Something to think about. I don’t want to pretend to have all the answers, especially since I have none of them.

After that realization, I started exploring more of the side quests and collecting the masks. The weird dance one and the eagle mask that allows you to lead animals in a parade are my favorite, because they are collectibles that have a tiny piece of gameplay with them. I also got the Great Fairy one which looks hilariously bad, especially because Link isn’t animated to turn so these giant braids pop back and forward if you juke to another direction.

Mildly related, I want to plug the Female Link game jam which Brenna showed me. It can be found here. I think this is a really cool idea and I am looking forward to seeing the game that come out of it. I might try and prototype something myself, but no promises. I currently have two side projects in the works not counting this blog, along with my day job. If I do do something I’ll be sure to post about it here.

I genuinely don’t know what will be the next post. I will definitely be playing Life is Strange: episode 2,  but am not sure that there’ll be anything new experience wise beyond story content that’ll allow me to have more to say about the game. I’d also like to grab the Forza 2: Horizon Fast and Furious DLC, but I’m even less expecting to be able to cover that in a post. So it might be those two game in one post, or it’ll be Battlefield: Hardlines. You’ll find out soon enough.

-Eric John E

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