The Legend of Zelda: Why Majora’s Mask Is the Best Zelda Game

This week's Unpopular Opinion singles out the best of a worthwhile Nintendo franchise.

The Legend of Zelda may very well be the greatest video game series ever. Since The Legend of Zelda graced the NES in 1986, there have been so many great installments, each one offering pristine level design, incredible art direction, and, usually, genre-furthering innovation. And within the Zelda universe, Majora’s Mask is the best of the bunch.

It didn’t reinvent Zelda for a three-dimensional world like Ocarina of Time, pack the cinematic punch of Skyward Sword, or pivot from the series’ linear roots like Breath of the Wild. Instead, the follow up to Ocarina of Time took the best of an already great system, and added enough variety — both in gameplay and in narrative structure — to truly stand out, for all the right reasons.

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The game features two great conventions: a constantly running clock that only your trusty ocarina can stave off, and a mask-collecting system that adds great variety to the game’s four dungeons and numerous side quests (and the reward for collecting every mask is better than most item-collecting systems). 

But what really stands out is the story: somber, lonely and mystical, Link spends the game endeavoring to battle the corrupted Skull Kid, a loner who fell into a bad way, at the world’s peril. When compared to the various incarnations of Ganon that Link has had to battle over the years, there’s no comparison. Skull Kid is a better, more complex, and ultimately more sympathetic foil, which propels the game beyond other installments, which all feature great gameplay, but don’t pack this kind of nuance in the story. Sure, at times, the game feels more Zelda adjacent than a proper entry into the series. But that doesn’t matter: what makes it stand out also makes it the best title in the series. 

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Learn more about The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask in the video below: