Genre: Action, Adventure | Players: 1 | Developer: Nintendo EAD
As with Zelda II before, Nintendo saw fit to make their second N64 console entry radically different from its predecessor. Virtually all of Ocarina’s assets are present, but they are turned on their head to create as new an experience as this franchise has ever mustered. Most importantly, the characters—and some NPCs who were originally not much more than character models—are given entirely new roles. It is the exact methodology exhibited in Stephen King’s Desperation and The Regulators (1996, both), with equally effective results.
Young Link is put in a position where he has the option to help as few or as many of these unfortunate souls as you deem fit. Gameplay revolves around a three day cycle that can be reset at will once the Song of Time is recalled. Link gets to keep the items, heart pieces and masks that he earns in each cycle, but the characters' memories and all events reset along with the time. This leads to repetition, but it is thought-driven, unlike the mindless variety I personally find to be in Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon. To further aid in this, people’s schedules are automatically recorded in a notebook the moment they open up to you with their problems.
The above mentioned masks have grown from a side-quest in Ocarina to being the main focus here. A few are transformative in nature, granting new powers. Others function in more limited ways or aid entry into the four dungeons, the process of which is now, also puzzle-driven in nature.
Frankly, there are aspects of MM that made my soul sing and others that I absolutely fucking loathed. I had problems solving certain things on my own, but when I retroactively looked at each case, I had to admit that the game indeed provided the means to resolve those issues. At a different time in my life, I probably would have been more patient and capable of doing everything independently.
In the end, this is the kind of game that teaches you things about yourself and life in general, if you’re willing to listen: when to ask for and provide help, when to accept things, and when things just have to be let go. I can’t claim to prefer it to Ocarina, though I can absolutely respect those who do because they are as equal as they are unique from one another.
Buyer’s Guide: It is of utmost importance to know that if you want the original 64 cart you’ll also need to procure an expansion pack as it is one of the few games that require it. It’s also available in the LoZ Collector’s Edition on the Game Cube and on the virtual console. The 3DS remake will be available the month of this writing (February 2015).
4½ Distraught Goatse Shields out of 5