@ffff0 said in The EZA Forum Hall of Greats (September 2021):
Follow-up question to @Oscillator about The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask.
Previously I’ve asked you what positive aspects time loop mechanic bring to this game and what makes drawbacks of having time loop mechanic less dreadful than they seem from the outside? You’ve explained why this mechanic is less stressful than it seems, but you haven’t said what presence of this mechanic adds to the game. Can you talk about that?
Most of the NPCs in the game have their own personal schedule. They open up their businesses, go to meetings, make deliveries, and generally move around, usually just within the central hub of Clock Town, but sometimes in to/out of the outer regions as well, with their dialogue changing depending on where they are/what they're doing/what day it is. Learning these schedules to earn masks is the other half of the game aside from the main adventure.
The time loop also adds constant meaning to Link's adventure, as the moon gets physically closer each day, the music in Clock Town gets more intense, and NPCs panic more. The most atmospheric part of the game is the final hours of the last day each cycle, where a special countdown timer appears, the music changes through the entire world, the rumbling caused by the gravity of the moon is almost constant, and the NPCs reach the end of their schedules, hide in their homes, and enter peak acceptance/denial/fatalism/regret. Then Link goes back to the start of the cycle, and everything's bright and sunny again.
These schedules and waves of emotions are almost unique in the Zelda series. Breath of the Wild does have daily schedules for some NPCs, and strong emotions attached to the memories and some sidequests, but these elements are FAR more pronounced in Majora's Mask.
The time loop also gives a fresh feeling to the progression of the main adventure. It isn't a huge difference from other Zelda games, but clearing a lengthy pre-dungeon quest or dungeon close to the end of a cycle, getting a new key item, then starting a new cycle and using the key item to access the next area has a really nice rhythm.
There aren't many moments like this, but one of the best expressions of the time loop is the ranch where you find your horse. For the first third of the game, you can't get into the ranch until the third day because a giant rock is blocking the way and a man is slowly chipping away at it. But by the third day, something has happened to a young girl at the ranch, leaving her in a catatonic state, devastating her older sister, and stopping you from getting your horse. But then you get the ability to blow up the giant rock on the first day, and get to experience and help prevent the event that caused the travesty.