Review Summary: You only have 72 hours.
As a 9-year-old, the video game I had been anticipating more than any other was The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask. The prequel, Ocarina of Time, had been my favorite game to date, and the much-anticipated sequel did not disappoint. Now as a 9-year-old, my musical tastes were embarrassing to say the least. However, I always appreciated the music that accompanies this game. From the opening theme to the ending credits, the Majora’s Mask Soundtrack takes the listener on a musical adventure to save Termina from impending doom.
Before I begin talking about the music, I feel it is necessary to talk a little about the game when reviewing a video game soundtrack. Majora’s Mask has always been a “black sheep” in the Legend of Zelda series. For one, it does not even take place in Hyrule, the main setting for most Zelda games up to this point. It does not focus on the rescue of Princess Zelda, and does not require Link to banish Ganondorf to the dark realm to ensure the safety of Hyrule. Rather, the game focuses on the prevention of an apocalypse by the moon crashing into the earth. Needless to say, this is truly a dark game if there ever was one.
Now most people often say that Ocarina of Time is the superior Legend of Zelda soundtrack. I, however, strongly disagree. With the lonely arpeggios of Clock Town, and the eerie, bent, distorted chimes of the Southern Swamp, the Majora’s Mask soundtrack leaves the listener with a sense of wonderful uneasiness. This sense of uneasiness is most aptly captured with the horns and accordions of this game, present most notably in Deku Palace. Though many pieces are reprised from the Ocarina of Time Soundtrack, the original pieces embody the very essence of Majora’s Mask. From the eerie tones of Majora’s Theme and Song of Healing, one gathers the horrifying nature and loneliness that Link experiences throughout his time in Termina, being the only person who can control the otherwise horrible fate of this foreign land.
However, the soundtrack for this game is not completely hopeless and lonely. One can gather the triumph that Link feels when completing a milestone in his quest to restore order and hope to Termina. The triumph one feels when playing the Oath to Order right before the moon is about to crash is second to none in this Soundtrack, and after each temple is completed, one feels a sense of accomplishment like no other.
There are four distinct sections to this soundtrack, Swamp, Mountains, Ocean, and Canyon, and they all progress in generally the same way. They start off with an uneasy tone layered in ambience, which floods the listener with dread and fear at the exploration of a new area. Link then enters the headquarters of the people who live there, and a classic song from Ocarina of Time is reprised. After that, the temple music begins to chime, as Link explores the temple that he must overcome in order to reach another milestone in the overall goal. The temple music is usually some of the best music in the game, as it is mostly just repeating phrases of jarring, uneasy music that gives the listener a sense of dread that Link experiences as he explores an unknown area full of monsters and puzzles designed to kill him. Once Link has completed the temple, the boss battle is only left, filling the listener with a sense of urgency and seriousness of the situation Link is faced with. Finally, when the boss battle is finished, Link restore complete order to the area and reap his rewards by completing the extra quests in the region.
Looking back on it, I may have spoken too much about the game itself, but the Soundtrack to Majora’s Mask is intended to accompany the game, lonely and hopeless as it is. The only music more lonely and fitting than the actual Soundtrack itself would be a complete absence of music from the game completely. However, if this were the case, Koji Kondo would never have given us the ringing chimes of Clock Town, or the excitement of Termina Field. This soundtrack should not be picked up as a casual listen for one who does not know the nature and progression of The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, but for those who do, it will bring about a sense of nostalgia almost as good as replaying the game again.