Freshman year of college was pretty good. Living in the dorms meant overpaying for a miniscule amount of space that had to be shared with a roommate, but it also meant meeting new people in the surrounding rooms and floors.
One of the people I met back then was Nick. Nick happened to bring his Nintendo 64 up with him to the university (I had to leave mine back at home), and he had a game that I had always loved but only managed to play once: Majora’s Mask. So there were quite a few days where I would spend my free time between classes up in his room playing through one of the best Zelda games ever made.
There’s always been a debate on which Zelda game is the best, but no two games get put into a head-to-head matchup more frequently than Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask. It makes sense, considering that they’re directly related and share a lot of the same music and characters, albeit in a different dimension entirely. I’ve always been on the MM side of the fence, and the soundtrack is a large reason why.
Simply put, Majora’s Mask has tracks that blow Ocarina of Time out of the water. Yes, OoT has some iconic tracks that I absolutely love (like Gerudo Valley and Windmill Hut), but none of them come close to evoking the emotion and atmosphere of the songs you’ll see below. Like the game itself, MM’s music is dark, foreboding and brooding. It even use Termina Field to include the main Zelda music we know and love, which Ocarina of Time somehow missed. Koji Kondo’s work is some of the best in the business, and this is a prime example.
Here are my picks for five of the best tracks from The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask…
So you stumble into a dark dimension, lose your horse, take a beating, and get turned into a plant. Good start. You stumble through the Clock Town and make your way to the Observatory, and this ethereal track is your reward. (Your reward is also a telescopic look at that giant moon in the sky and the Skull Kid making fun of you from atop the clock tower, which isn’t a great prize.) The Clock Town music is a great, memorable track, but for me, this is the first song that really sets the stage.
Now that you’re finally coming to terms with the terrible fate you’ve met, it’s time to go visit your new Deku brothers. There, you learn that the princess is missing and find a monkey being tortured for information in a fiery cauldron. Sounds about right. I think this song is one of the more notable town themes in the entire series — most of the time music like this is more atmospheric, content to stay in the background, but Deku Palace grabs your attention from the start. As an added bonus, it plays the entire time you’re sneaking around the palace trying not to get caught by the guards.
Song of Healing
It’s amazing to me that this music is essentially Saria’s Song played backwards, but the two tracks couldn’t be more different. Instead of a lighthearted, happy little ditty, we have a sad song with haunting synth in the background and an almost creepy-sounding piano leading the way. You may have already noticed, but I like this track so much that I played it myself to celebrate one of the website’s milestones.
Another example of how a song can set the stage. You’ve been tasked with sneaking into the pirate fortress to retrieve the Zora eggs, but those familiar Gerudo guards and everywhere. Like in Ocarina of Time, that means using stealth to infiltrate the area without being caught (or taking the easy way out and wearing the Stone Mask to move right in front of them), and this music essentially screams “look, I’m being stealthy!” A serious and cool track.
When I first played this game as a kid, this song scared the crap out of me. I figured I would wait around until it got closer to the end of the third day, just to see what would happen. As the townsfolk start to either freak out or accept their doomed fate, as the now-gigantic moon creeps ever closer, as a countdown clock rushes frantically to zero, this track takes the carefree music of the clock town’s first three days and kicks it to the curb. While I think this is one of the best Zelda tracks of its own accord, it’s the setup and context that takes it to the next level for me. Awesome.
Music to My Ears covers soundtracks or individual songs from video games on a recurring basis, which is basically whenever Chris gets around to writing it. You can view all posts in the series by clicking here.