There is a version of The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask that is infamous… a GameCube version that, for a lack of better words is disastrous.
The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask is strange, creepy, and dark for Zelda standards. As a twisted adventure that deals with mature themes extremely well, the game was released on October 26, 2000, for a North American audience. Although it didn’t sell as well as the critically acclaimed The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, the game still managed to sell 3.36 million copies worldwide. Since launch, the game has been released on a variety of platforms.
In 2015, it received the remake treatment in the form of The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D, releasing on both the Wii and Wii U respectively. However, there is one version of the game that you don’t hear much about. Majora’s Mask saw a release on the GameCube through a collector’s disc that was distributed in limited quantities.
There are four known methods for how you would have obtained this. This includes:
- Purchasing the Mario Kart: Double Dash GameCube Console bundle.
- Claiming a prize from various Nintendo websites and clubs across the world.
- Purchasing a specific GameCube title and sending the receipt to Nintendo.
- Ordering a subscription to Nintendo Power in North America.
On the disc, you receive a collection of Zelda titles (hence the naming convention). The Legend of Zelda, Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, and finally, The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask were the titles available in this collection. A demo of the then-upcoming The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker was playable whilst a video retrospective of the franchise could be viewed. It seemed like the perfect celebration of all things Zelda at the time.
However, something was… off with these ports.
Nintendo didn’t port these games in a traditional sense. Normally, games are reworked to function on a specific platform. This usually means that the engine is tweaked to ensure functionality. With the Zelda Collector’s disc, this wasn’t the case. Nintendo essentially emulated these games using software that they had developed. For the other games on the disc, this hadn’t been an issue. They ran fine with minimal slowdown, save for some delay with button inputs. But Majora’s Mask is a different story.
Majora’s Mask required the extra RAM to run properly. This makes sense, if you’ve played the original N64 version, you’ll know that the game requires the expansion pack. As such, the transition to the GameCube came with its fair share of problems.
The Literal Inverted Song Of Time
The Inverted Song of Time was always intended to slow down time in Majora’s Mask. Ironically enough, the GameCube version took that to heart. Playing this version is near impossible, especially when playing as Goron Link. As a result, the boss fight against Goht ends up being the most frustrating part of the whole experience. Goht is normally a straight-forward encounter; however, with the game’s frame rate plummeting, it becomes infuriating. And no, the Song of Double Time doesn’t have real-world effects, much unlike its counterpart.
You’ve Met With A Terrible Fate, Haven’t You?
After leaving Clock Town, you enter the marvelous Termina field. The iconic main-theme whistles its way to your ears, and things are fine and dandy. The saving system in the original version of Majora’s Mask wasn’t great, right? Owl Statues were and are still the only way to save any sort of progress.
But in this new edition, instead of the moon crashing down into Termina, you may be met with a worse fate. Yep, Majora’s Mask on GameCube is highly prone to crashing. Before you know it, all that time spent in the Woodfall Temple is gone. You’ve met with a terrible fate, haven’t you? The words of the Happy Mask Salesman has a greater meaning, now…
It seems that these crashes are more frequent with the rumble feature enabled, so it might be worth switching that off. Sorry, Jim, no vibrating controller for you.
Some textures like to disappear, just like those stupid Deku Scrubs. The biggest contender for texture pop-ins is the scene where you obtain the Zora mask. As you know, the Indigo-go members tend to fade and out of existence. But though this is a rare occurrence, the results are… strange, to say the least. A strange glitch for a strange game, I suppose. Other scenes have similar issues, with various textures popping in at times. To this day, the chances of it happening depend on a variety of unknown factors.
Distorted Song of Time
Sound in the GameCube version has never worked properly, evident in the transition between in-game areas. Music likes to distort when moving from, let’s say, Clock Town to Termina. While this is a minor glitch, the awful noises make for an unpleasant experience.
Why Should You Choose Another Version?
To some people, these differences won’t be the end of the world. If this is the only accessible version of the game for you, then go ahead and play it. Majora’s Mask is an amazing game and deserves to be played, especially when opportunities present themselves. However, other versions of the game provide more consistent experiences with very little slowdown.
So, what is the definitive way to play this game?
The short answer is to play the Wii Virtual Console version. It is the fastest version of the game, with most glitches being fixed. There was a time when speedruns of the game used the Japanese Wii VC version. However, the North American version has since taken the reins. This is because the English version’s exclusive glitches actually prove beneficial, and can be utilized in speedruns.
Wait a minute, I said glitches were a bad thing!
In a speedrun context, the more glitches, the better. However, the GameCube version suffers from glitches that provide more inconveniences than positives for the player. The Wii VC version enables the player to do some incredible maneuvers, which you can check out here.
The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D is also a good version to play. It removes some features that fans loved in the original, but it also introduces a ton of player-friendly improvements. Saving is the biggest change, having been refined to be a lot more intuitive. Unfortunately, the fast-paced Zora swimming mechanics took a turn for the worse. While navigation is now easier in the Great Bay Temple, going super fast is no longer on the table.
Overall, the answer is to burn the GameCube version and play it on literally anything else!