The Legend of Zelda -Majora’s Mask- Original Soundtrack
The Legend of Zelda -Majora’s Mask- Original Soundtrack
DigiCube (1st Edition); Square Enix (2nd Edition)
November 21, 1997; November 22, 2006
Buy Used Copy
There may have been clamor from some disappointed Zelda fans, but for me, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time was all I could ever expect from a Zelda game, and so was the music. As such, I had little hopes that The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask (Mask of Mujula in Japan) could ever be every bit as grand as Ocarina of Time. When I first bought the soundtrack, however, I was in for a happy surprise: the music to Majora’s Mask is quite decent, second only in comparison to Ocarina of Time.
One of the first things that surprised me about The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask is that it is a two CD set. And no wonder! This soundtrack has arguably the largest amount of themes ever present in a Nintendo 64 game to be exact. (That’s 30 more pieces than Ocarina of Time! And you thought a cartridge-based system couldn’t handle this amount, eh?) This will probably mean that all the themes are played twice, right? Well, actually, only a few are. But I was still impressed that Majora’s Mask managed to get such a treatment, and I hope to see Nintendo’s future soundtracks chart this course.
Like its predecessors, many of the classic themes composed for previous Zelda games return. Actually, a large majority of these returning themes are the ones from Ocarina of Time, including the catchy “Windmill Hut”, the merry-go-round-like “Shooting Gallery”, the Bach-like “Kepora Gebora’s Theme”, the Western “Lon Lon Ranch”, the primitive “Goron City”, the beautiful “Zora’s Domain”, and several others (yes, even some of the Ocarina songs from Ocarina of Time return, as well as the fanfares). Interesting come-backs are the “Horse Race” music and the “Goal” fanfare. What is interesting about this come-back is that “Goron Race” and “Goron Race Goal” are, in fact, identical to “Horse Race” and “Goal”; the only difference is that they sound like they could be played on Goron instruments! This works rather well, however, for the scene for which it is intended.
There are also some pieces that have been used in other previous Zelda games, such as the harp-ascending Fairy music, Princess Zelda’s lovely theme (from the much-loved The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past), and, much to my surprise, a few pieces from the original The Legend of Zelda, which include the dungeon and ending themes. These tracks are hinted, briefly, on tracks 27 and 28 on the second disc. And I thought I also heard the “Cave” music from The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past on track 26 of the second disc as well. Best of all, the classic Zelda “Overworld” theme, used in just about every Zelda game released (except Ocarina of Time, which used only the first couple of notes), is back. Yippee! If you don’t believe me, check out “Termina Field”. The theme sparkles with delight and brings back memories of playing the previous Zelda games. The only difference about it is the orchestration, which hints tension, and there is a very dark ending to the piece, as if to say that doomsday is coming. Incidentally, the game involves Link saving the world of Termina from a falling moon, so I guess it’s fitting for the theme to include this motif.
New themes are created as well. The “Clock Town” music is a Scottish dance-like piece which, after the first two-thirds, has an ominous chord, further hinting the terror that is about to come. The theme for Majora is sinister in a wacky sort of way, with an Arabian flair. There is also a majestic, mysterious slow song for the Giants and a primitive jig for the Deku Nut’s Palace. These themes, however, are only few of the several other ones that are introduced.
Another interesting aspect about the soundtrack is that even though it is mostly composed by Koji Kondo, three of the tracks are composed by newcomer Toru Minegishi: “Battle”, “Middle Boss Battle”, and “Boss Battle”. “Battle” is a lot more exciting than “Battle” from Ocarina of Time; it sizzles with tension. “Middle Boss Battle” is very reminiscent of “Boss Battle” from Ocarina of Time, featuring the same cacophonous piano chords and dissonant horn, but its melody is more musical. “Boss Battle” features the same driving beat of “Dinosaur Boss Battle” from Ocarina of Time, without ever being a rehash of that theme. Back to Kondo, the last three battle themes are different variations on “Majora’s Theme”; the first one is slow and menacing (if not intense), the second one is rather, uh, wierd, and the last one is probably the most exciting of the variations, featuring the same snare drum and beat of “Last Battle” from Ocarina of Time (minus the awesome chorus vocals). These tracks work better in the game than for listening experience, but then again, most game soundtracks do contain tracks of this type.
As with Ocarina of Time, the dungeon songs are not meant for listening experience quality, but rather are atmospheric and meant to set the tone of the dungeon. The “Woodfall Temple” music, in particular, consists of beating drums with all sorts of jungle animal sounds (including what sounds like Indian war whoops) going on in the background. In addition, “Cave” sounds similar to “Dodongo’s Cavern” from Ocarina of Time, as it is an atmospheric sounding piece with little or no melodies at all. “Snowhead Temple” mixes in whispering winds and a very low, sinister piano solo, with an occasional female’s vocal chords to set the mood. “Great Bay Temple” is probably the most interesting of the temple pieces; it takes two different motifs and plays them one atop the other before harsher synthesized sounds make their move. All of this occurs over what sounds like rushing water. “Rockvale Temple” is probably the most musical of the temple themes, as well as the catchiest; I found myself humming the tune long after I listened to it the first time around. There are two different versions of this; the second version features some real wierd music effects. It is much higher, too; the first version contains a male’s chorus while the second version features a female’s chorus. In the game, this effect works eloquently, since the temple Link visits is one that turns upside down. (Higher music for a higher place, get it?).
And speaking of chorus tracks, there are plenty, which range from haunting and beautiful (“Clock Tower” and “Giant’s Theme”) to dark and scary (“Ikana Valley”). Even though the singers aren’t authentic, they still sound great considering that they’re synthesized (a characteristic of Ocarina of Time). All this may make Majora’s Mask seem like another conventional Zelda soundtrack, but it is quite different from its predecessors. It is much darker and scarier; not only are some of the environment pieces scary (such as “Marsh Land” and “Ikana Valley”), but the whole soundtrack seems to carry this feeling throughout a large majority of the music. This is suitable, though, since the game features a plot that is much darker than any previous Zelda game to date. Take the “Last Day” track for example. This theme is very slow, beautiful, and sad but it also shares a touch of terror, perfectly mirroring the situation in the game where Link has only six hours before the moon falls…
The soundtrack is also off-beat. For example, there is a slow, jazz number (“Zora Band”) with a synthesized voice (similar to the one in “Lon Lon Ranch”) which may seem out of place on first listen, and “Cremia’s Wagon” sounds like it could come from a Western movie. There’s even one track on Disc Two that is, as its title mentions, a Frog’s song(!). In addition, there are plenty of Arabian pieces scattered here and there, as well as a few Scottish pieces (like the ones I mentioned earlier). This is definitely *not* your typical Zelda soundtrack, but then again, neither was Ocarina of Time (which was more of a cinematic, interactive experience than the traditional epic game score).
The very, very last track is not a typical piece you’d expect for a grand finale. This six-minute long track begins with a jazz band swing, then it goes into a celebrational, primitive, lively melody which includes shades of the Overworld theme before it finally gets to a more appropriate sound. Then the chorus comes in, along with the synthesized orchestra, to do an absolutely gorgeous interlude. After a somewhat scary follow-up, the theme ends with a very lovely, hair-tingling chord with the chorus and the strings a very nice touch. But then, just when you think it’s over, the track teases us with a whistle-sound reindition of “Saria’s Song” from Ocarina of Time. This surprise ending makes us only want more. In fact, after listening to that track, I literally listened to the whole thing again! But then, I guess if a soundtrack makes you feel that way, it is a sure sign that this is a classic.
Now lets talk about how the synthesis sounds. As with this soundtrack’s predecessor, the instruments sound more synthesized than realistic. In other words, the quality is somewhat limited in comparison to the more advanced sound systems on CD-based consoles. (Nintendo 64 soundtracks have been unfavorably reviewed — and put down — because of this, as I’m sure you all know.) Even the choral voices, as mentioned before, aren’t authentic, just more synthesis. However, the chorus and instruments still sound quite good in spite of these drawbacks. The atmospheric sounds featured on some of the tracks, however, sound authentic and spectacular. They really make players feel that they’re a part of the world that the game’s protagonist is going through. This is a characteristic that Ocarina of Time shared.
Probably the best way to approach the music of Majora’s Mask is to not compare it unfavorably to Ocarina of Time, but how it holds its own ground. Sure, it’s off-beat, but that is what makes this score a gem. I loved this music when I first received this soundtrack, and I love it even more now that I have played the game. This is probably another good way of how to experience the uniqueness of the music. Whether you love it or hate it, The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask qualifies as a decent follow-up to Ocarina of Time, and comes as strongly recommended as its predecessor.
Do you agree with the review and score? Let us know in the comments below!
Posted on August 1, 2012 by Jon Turner. Last modified on August 1, 2012.