The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time exists as a lightning rod for the video game franchise, well known as one of the best video games ever made. However, a discussion of Ocarina isn’t complete without bringing up its sequel, Majora’s Mask. With only one year of development time needed to make the game—as opposed to the four years it took to make Ocarina of Time—series fans were treated to what is often described as the most odd and surreal game of the series.

Fresh from a timey-wimey quest to save Hyrule from Ganondorf, kid Link stumbles upon a worrisome, eerie-looking mask salesman who laments the theft of Majora’s Mask—a carved costume face mask—by Skull Kid. After learning of the mask’s great power, Skull Kid steals the object and is immediately overcome by its malevolent influence. Link chases after the mysterious boy, who has also stolen his ocarina and horse Epona, only to be transported to a mirror version of Hyrule called Termina. The central landmark of this world is a city called Clock Town, which buzzes in preparation for the upcoming Carnival of Time. The denizens seem oddly detached and unaware the Skull Kid’s meddling has set into motion an apocalyptic event: in three days time, a moon with a terrifying visage will obliterate Termina. In true Zelda fashion, Link must explore the four corners of the earth and seek assistance from a mysterious race of giants to prevent the disaster.

Accompanying Majora’s Mask is the adaptation of the Super Nintendo game, A Link to the Past. In this prequel story to the original Legend of Zelda video game, Link lives with his uncle on an apple orchard, blissfully unaware that evil forces are conspiring to revive a dangerous foe. One night, Link is telepathically contacted by Princess Zelda, held captive by a dark sorcerer named Agahnim who plans to sacrifice her so that Ganon may live. Given the quest to find the Master Sword and three seals of power, Link sets off on a journey where he’ll tangle with massive guardians, sneaky bandits, and helpful sages.

The video game versions of Majora and Link to the Past take hours to complete, but all the mucking about solving puzzles, fighting bosses, and doing side quests has been excised from the story to create a straightforward narrative. While the story it tells is good enough, part of the thrill of a Zelda adventure is doing the puzzles and fighting the bosses. Furthermore, the story ignores a central mechanic of Majora’s Mask that involves repeatedly traveling back in time (because three days just isn’t enough to save the day). However, the fact of the matter is that nitty gritty gameplay doesn’t make for good storytelling. Those experienced in the games may recognize that the manga lacks tension and sense of danger; despite having been shown not to have much experience in combat, Link can do no wrong as he slices and dices his way to his foe.

This sort of thing was also a concern in the Ocarina of Time manga I previously reviewed. Creative liberties for video game adaptations are always expected, but when so much of the games rely on puzzle and combat mechanics, some material might be difficult to translate. Nevertheless, the limits of the medium probably won’t be enough to keep Nintendo and Zelda fans away from these books. Each volume of the Legendary Editions series is pretty to look at with eye-catching, attractive coloring. The interior artwork is as lovely as it was in Ocarina of Time. Even though I feel the story removes a lot of what makes a Zelda video game so unique, artist Akira Himekawa is consistent in his ability to recreate Hyrule and its denizens, as well as great panels, splash pages, and fight scenes.

With the release of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, the flagship Nintendo franchise has never been more popular. Link is a literal Hero of Time in that his adventures, which began in the 1980s, have truly withstood the test of time. Viz Media’s Legendary Editions bring together all the volumes that make up manga adaptations of the Zelda games, such as Ocarina of Time, Minish Cap, and Four Swords. These anthologies are a treat for Nintendo fans, as they present some of the most well-known adventures of Link and Princess Zelda—and given that the timeline for the video games is notoriously convoluted, readers are free to pick up any volume and enjoy the story without having to do any homework.

The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask and A Link to the Past, Legendary Edition
by Akira Himakawa
ISBN: 9781421589619
Viz Media, 2017
Publisher Age Rating: All Ages

  • Allen

    | He/Him Past Reviewer

    Allen Kesinger is a Reference Librarian at the Newport Beach Public Library in California. He maintains the graphic novel collections at the library, having established an Adult collection to compliment the YA materials. When not reading graphic novels, he fills his time with other nerdy pursuits including video games, Legos and steampunk.

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