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The Legend of Zelda Majora's Mask Original Soundtrack :: Review by Resk

The Legend of Zelda Majora's Mask Original Soundtrack Album Title: The Legend of Zelda Majora's Mask Original Soundtrack
Record Label: DigiCube (1st Edition); Square Enix (Reprint)
Catalog No.: SSCX-10010; SQEX-10080
Release Date: November 21, 1997; November 22, 2006
Purchase: Buy at eBay


Continuing on from my review of Ocarina of Time, it's time to take a look at the second Nintendo 64 The Legend of Zelda title, Majora's Mask. This was my first Zelda game, and I really enjoyed it from all angles. My first experiences with the ocarina; my first talks with a fairy; my first costume ball in a game with so many masks to choose from! There was a lot of innovation with this title, even more so than with Ocarina of Time, but does the soundtrack for the game reflect this? As with Ocarina of Time, I'm going to be looking at some of the tracks which stand out as being strong additions to this album, and which help to showcase what makes this game so innovative. I won't necessarily look at the most popular tracks or the most well known tracks, but it's always good to look at something different.


Normally, it would make sense to start off the review with a look at the Ocarina tracks. However, it feels more appropriate to start off with the place you'll be spending most of your time: Clock Town. Good old Clock Town, you were certainly fun to run around, especially when trying to catch Mr. Fox mask, and always just falling short of catching him before he entered his house. "Clock Tower" is the first theme you'll come across in this time-oriented town, and it mimics the "Song of Healing," which Link learns to turn the Deku curse into a mask. The strings definitely give a bit more to the track, in terms of it's mysterious power, and make you believe that those few notes do indeed have some significance for Link. But let's leave the Mask salesman for now, and enter the town. Right away, you'll be familiar with the track. The opening chime of "Clock Town Day 1" is the same as the "Sun Song" from Ocarina of Time. Now, in case you haven't played Majora's Mask, here's some info. Basically, you play through the same three day time period over and over again. An in game clock counts the hours, and the settings changes as time passes (day turns to night, etc.) Day One consists of a sunny day, Day Two is rainy, and Day Three is cloudy. When in Clock Town, you'll get a different theme for each of the three days. "Clock Town Day 1" is a very happy piece, with a repeating melody that, surprisingly, doesn't get old. The percussion is light, with the focus being on the solo instruments, mostly strings and flutes. In contrast, the instruments change for "Clock Town Day 2," with percussion being removed, and solo violins and flutes taking the lead. Appropriate for a rainy day. "Clock Town Day 3" is very tense. You see, the weather isn't the only thing that changes. Each day, the Evil Moon (drawn by the power of the Majora Mask) gets closer to the earth. At the end of the third day, the moon collides with the earth, and everything is destroyed. In this third theme, the melody is faster, with an emphasis on strings, flutes, and guitar. On top of this, a foreboding low string progression hints at the impending doom. "Last End" appears at 6pm of the third and final day, announcing that you only have six hours remaining to finish up any remaining quests, before you must travel back in time and start again, or face a game over screen. This piece, in my opinion, is one of the coolest tracks ever to appear in a Zelda game. The atmosphere given by the airy flutes, and the mood produced by the techno sweeps, is something very different that you don't hear very often in the Zelda series.

While we're talking of time travel, let's move onto the ocarina tracks, starting with the "Song of Time." This is one track that gets repeated many times in the game. You must play it once during every three-day cycle in the game, which makes it very prominent. However, I'm going to talk about it a little later. "Song of Healing" I have already briefly discussed, and the track focuses on healing Link's initial curse. I'll talk about the track in more detail later on. "Song of Inverse" on the other hand, is the exact opposite. The first pattern of notes is the reverse of "Song of Time," but it sounds a bit odd, and out of tune; appropriate for its use, but somewhat stand-offish as a track. "Gale Song" allows you to teleport to areas in the game, and is a very quick, high-tension pattern of notes. "Commanding Vow" is another track which appears repeatedly in the game, and is the song of the Giants. It's a very sad sounding melody, however something gets lost in the translation. The vocals in the track are the same male choir sounds seen in Ocarina's "Temple of Time," and they're a bit distracting. "Song of Elder" is probably the least interesting of all the ocarina themes. Three notes make up the entire track, which leaves it extraordinarily dull. There is one place in the game that everyone looks forward to: when you finally get to ride Epona again, which means no more walking! "Epona's Song" hasn't changed, and even "Romani Ranch" (this dimension's version of "Lon Lon Ranch") is identical in all but the instrumentation, with a violin replacing Lon's voice. Another returning ocarina theme is the "Song of Storms," which also hasn't changed.

The 'elemental world' themes have changed a bit in this game, now representing the Deku, Goron, and Zora races. "Awake Sonata" is a very light, short tune which allows you to gain access to the Woodfall Temple. Although I don't care for the trumpet in the orchestral version, the ocarina version is very pleasant to listen to. "Goron Lullaby" is very slow, and low in pitch, and matches a lullaby quite well for the Goron race. But again, something sounds a bit off in the orchestral version of the track; probably the odd sounding vocal melody. The "Sea Roar Bossanova" of the Zoras is very cool to hear, with a jazz rhythm to it, complete with saxophone, bass, piano, and drum set! I'm always very happy when a Zora related track appears on the Zelda albums, because for some reason, they feel the most natural when paired with their underwater setting. The "Skin Shedding Elegy" is another very strange sounding track. Switching from major to minor keys in the track, with some odd instrument choices, make the whole track feel a bit strained.

Before we wrap up, lets look at the two main themes of the game. "Termina Field" gives us the familiar theme that everyone recognizes with the Zelda franchise. And although it doesn't have the majesty of the Hyrule version, the instrumentation does a great job at showing you that you're in an alternate dimension. The theme is the same, yet altered just enough to suggest evil is lurking in the shadows, both hiding in the trees, and in the somewhat frightening gaze of the moon. But really, the big theme on this album is the "Song of Healing Demo." We see this theme pop up all over the place on this album, but in reality, it deserves to. When ranking the Zelda themes, this one is right up there with "Zelda's Theme" from Ocarina of Time. I also love how it's a piano only track, with only supporting synthesizers to give some lower range balance to the track.


Altogether, my opinion of this album mirrors what I thought of Ocarina of Time. While the album has its strong points, a whole lot of it just sounds too much alike, particularly given about a third of the themes are carried over from Ocarina of Time. In many ways, this album is less diverse than its N64 counterpart, mostly due to the lack of interesting, upbeat tracks to provide some much needed variety. Also, it's the kind of soundtrack where if you really love Zelda, you could buy the album, but otherwise you'll just remember the themes after hearing them a few times in the game. The Zelda franchise is a strong one, and overall there is a lot of ingenuity in the tracks, but Koki Kondo is going to have to expand upon these simple, short melodic patterns if he wants to keep the music for Zelda sounding fresh.

Overall Score: 7/10