Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Walking Dead: Majora's Mask part 20

   Link climbs a hill up to a well.  Like pretty much everything in Ikana Canyon, the well is dry.  Crawling down into the well reveals that it is full of mummies.  Using the wraps that came off the guy from earlier, Link passes off as a mummy capable of jogging that also wears green.  The mummies in the well each ask for stuff, and Link brings each thing so that the souls of the mummies can be laid to rest.  At the far end of the well is a chamber with an image of the sun in it.  There is also a treasure chest.  Within the treasure chest is a mirror shield.  Upon the mirror shield is the most unpleasant face of what would seem to be a gorgon.  By standing in the light shining into this chamber, Link reflects the light onto the walls with the sun on them.  The sun gives a creepy smile, opening the way to another chamber.  Then in a long bit of puzzle solving and slaying the dead, Link works his way through the castle of the Ikana royal family.

   Link finally reaches the throne room.  The drapes over the lights descend as the dead king of the Ikana people admonishes Link for entering the throne room.  The room descends to darkness as two armed guards  approach Link.  Link fights with these guys a bit, but because of the darkness the spirits reenter the bones.  As it turns out, while drapes can block out all light in a room, they are quite old and subject to burn easily.  Using fire arrows, Link completely burns away the drapes filling the throne room with light.  In the light, the bodies of the guards cannot reform.  The king of the Ikana then challenges Link, but Link beats him as well.

   With the spirits of the king freed, he reveals that the reason the souls of Ikana Canyon have been stirred is because of, yep you guess it, Skull Kid.  Well, probably Skull Kid, the King just says "the masked one."  It would seem the dead have been roaming this place for a while.  Its hard to say when Skull Kid came and started causing trouble with the mask, but it is most likely him.  The Mask Salesman is also not outside of the realm of possibility (what? I don't trust him).  He mentions that all this trouble began with the dead raising when the Skull Kid (probably) entered the Stone Temple.  Unfortunately, all the armies of the dead were perplexed by the puzzle that guards the temple (yeah it's one of those "really?" kinda things.  but how many fairy tale kings can't figure out puzzles and stuff which calls for a hero to do it?)  It does require more than one person to enter the temple, and Link is only one person, so the king teaches Link a song.  The Elegy of Emptiness.

You shouldn't have done that...
   This is a creepy song, not because of what it sounds like, but because of what it does.  When Link plays the song a statue of himself appears in his place but it just doesn't look quite right.  This statue is now known as Ben, due to a creepy internet story (otherwise known as a creepypasta if you want to look it up) called Ben Drowned.  Basically, the story goes that somebody received a cursed copy of Majora's Mask that contained the damned soul of the child (named Ben) who previously owned the game but died by drowning in a lake and now manifests himself in the form of the statue.  Ben's spirit becomes a demon that torments the writer of the tale before the writer finally goes insane.  This story is hardly the only one of its kind, there are too many stories of cursed games for all of them to be of good quality.  The writer provides footage of how the game messes with him, and I must admit it's some eerie stuff.  I encourage you to read it.  It is probably one of the creepiest things I've ever read.  Sure it's fiction, but still I enjoyed it

Link takes this song to the temple.  Where we will pick up next time.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Monsters n' Music: Majora's Mask part 19

   Link goes to a graveyard where he is visited by a dead spirit named Flat.  Flat was a composer who wrote songs for the royal family of Ikana.  His brother, Sharp, was also a composer, but Sharp sold his soul and cursed Flat's soul to the graveyard.  While Flat was under the graveyard, he wrote a song filled with his hatred and sorrow toward his brother's actions and downfall.  This song is the Song of Storms, which is all over Youtube in a variety of dubstep remixes.  You should check them out if you're into that thing.  If not, the actual song that existed before the dubstep remixes is also quite nice.

   Having climbed the cliff, Link comes upon a strange building shaped like a music box.  It has a mill wheel in the river next to it, but the river doesn't have enough water in it so the music box house is doing nothing.  Surrounding the music box house are several mummies.  These mummies, known as gibdos, are nothing to mess around with, so we're just gonna let them devils do their thing for now and completely ignore them.

Somebody call Brendan Fraser.  We need him to yell at them a lot.  

     Link follows the riverbed to a cave.  Within the cave is another spirit.  This spirit is Sharp, the brother of Flat.  Sharp makes for a horrible soul.  He questions why Link would come to the land of the dead and assumes Link wishes to be dead.  Working his foul magic, Sharp makes Link gradually begin to weaken.  Under the circumstances of being faced by a spirit, it would make sense to play the Song of Healing.  While it worked fine every other time, the difference is that Sharp is not a tortured soul but rather a torturing soul.  He finds the song to be soothing (they all say that) and then proceeds to get back to killing Link.  The Song of Storms seems like the next best thing. It was written by flat so that would make it fitting to use against sharp.  When Link plays that, Sharp panics and stops torturing Link.  With Sharp's spirit gone, water begins to pour out of the cave and fill the riverbed.  As the water passes down the stream, the mill wheel turns.  As the wheel turns, music begins coming out of the house which causes all the gibdos to sort of dance around before descending into the ground.

     With the mummies gone, the camera zooms up to the door of the house and a click can be heard from the door unlocking.  Link comes out of the cave to see a little girl come out of the house and watch the river flow by.  This girl is very timid and will run in the house and lock the door if she sees Link approaching.  Using the mask that allowed Link to slip by the guards in the pirate base, Link enters the house.

    As it turns out, it is not the monsters outside that led the girl to lock the door, but the monster within.  Link opens a closet, and in a scene that I swear did not make me jump out of my chair, a half mummy guy jumps out and starts approaching Link.

I'm not shaking.  It just so happens
there's a small earthquake under
my feet.  
    After recovering and finding wherever I threw the controller, it is noted that the man isn't attacking.  Link plays the Song of Healing (because why not) and the mummy wraps fall off the guy, freeing him from the curse.  The wraps form into a mask, because it can be assumed the song fixed his soul without completely removing it and instead cut out the bad part and put it in the mask in a weakened state.  The daughter and father embrace in a rather happy moment and Link takes the mask to do something that we will discuss in the next post.  

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Abandon Hope, Ye Who Enter Here: Majora's Mask part 18

    Link approaches Ikana Canyon to the east.  Before I say any more, I'd like to point out the literary significance of going east.  To the Japanese living on an island, to go west was to go to China, but to go east was just ocean.  In the Chinese Odyssey "Journey to the West," the monk Xuanzang goes west to India to acquire the sacred texts of Buddhism in order to return east to reform the morally loose frivolity of his home.  In Jewish tradition, Cain, after killing his brother Abel, fled from God's presence east of Eden.  East of Eden became the title of a John Steinbeck work and the character Nick Carraway in F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby goes east to Long Island, NY where he witnesses the immorality of the Roaring Twenties.

Shi means death
   It sort of makes sense that going east has such a negative connotation in these cultures.  The sun rises in the east and sets in the west, so if a people were to spread out, it would make sense to go west with the sun so that they would not be travelling in the dark.  Ikana Canyon is a place full of darkness.  It is also the fourth geographical location Link has gone to this journey.  The significance of the number for is that in older Japanese, the word for four was shi.  Shi sounds remarkably similar to the Japanese word for death.  As such, the number four is unlucky (I'm having the wildest sense of deja vu. Did I write that before?) Ikana Canyon is also really the only place thus far in the journey that Link gets the option of turning back upon reaching it.  He rides to the canyon to find a large cliff with an odd hermit sitting on top.  The hermit's entire face is hidden save for one glowing red eye and his decaying bony legs swaying over the cliff's edge.  This fellow is the doppelganger of someone Link met on his previous adventure.  The original person's trade was the buying and selling of tormented souls known as Poes (named after the American poet and short story writer, it's no secret the creators of these games love literature just as the makers of the Mega Man series love music, and this is why Legend of Zelda has excellent stories while Mega Man has excellent music).  He will not let Link through unless Link comes back with a certain mask due to the dangers of the land.
(From OoT) What does one do with purchased tortured souls?

   Link acquires the necessary mask by challenging the bandits who tried to plunder the ranch's wagon in a race.  This mask is the Garo Ninja mask.  It is sort of a double edged sword.  The history of Ikana Canyon was that the kingdom of Ikana went to war with the Garo Ninjas.  It ended poorly for the Kingdom and now only the Garo Ninjas wander the ruins.  While wearing the mask, Link is safe from the tortured spirits of the land, but Link also attracts the attention of the Garo Ninjas.  They frequently mistake him for their leader, but upon realizing their fault challenge Link to a duel in a ring of mystical fire.  They aren't too difficult to beat, but they do come out of nowhere frequently and must be fought to go any farther.  Upon recognizing Link's strength, they give him some information before performing self-cremation.  They always say it is the way of their order to die without leaving a body.  It suggests that perhaps there is a curse on the dead of this land and to burn is the only way to be sure one's spirit will not linger.

Now imagine it coming out of nowhere and attacking.  
   We will continue upon Link's journey through the land of the dead in the next post.

Masquerade, Paper Faces on Parade: Majora's Mask part 17

    As you've probably guessed by now, masks are of considerable importance to this story.  The villain wears a mask, the monsters wear masks, and the hero is collecting masks from people he helps.  Being such an important symbol, I figure we should take a moment to look more deeply into these masks.
I always liked this picture.  Captures the dark whimsy of Skull Kid.

   I'm gonna start with the three masks that cause Link to transform (there's a fourth one later, but like just about everything in this blog, time and place).  The three forms that Link takes on in this game are the deku (tree person), the goron (rock person), and the zora (fish person).  Aside from the clever stream lining of many items that existed but were limited in use from the previous game (Link can shoot his fins out like boomerangs in Zora form and Goron Link can slam into the ground in the place of the hammer), it is important to note that each of these three masks embodies a spirit.  The Zora was the spirit of Mikau, the guitarist for the Indigo-gos.  When Link wears this mask, the other Zoras believe him to be Mikau.  The Goron mask contains the spirit of Darmani, the Beowulf-esque Goron.  Other Gorons also recognize him.  The Deku mask is the mystery.  Whose spirit does it contain?  Though never specifically stated, it is heavily implied that it was the dead tree Link met in the dark cave when he first came to Termina.  So who is that if both of the other two forms were of great significance and not just run of the mill Gorons and Zoras.  Link, within the Deku Palace, meets the butler and steward of the King who lets Link follow him through a sacred portion of the castle.  When Link wears the Deku mask and follows the Steward, the Steward mentions that Link reminds him of his son who went missing a while ago.  It is confirmed in the credits that the dead tree is his son as he is seen crying on his branches and roots before it.

   I think it is interesting to note that the Happy Mask Salesman (who is hardly trustworthy, stalking and strangling kids and stuff) carries around a lot of masks on his backpack.  We would like to think they are just simple masks with no magical properties, but seeing how Majora's Mask was part of his collection, I doubt these masks are harmless.

  Why masks?  Why not souls in some soul jar?  Well, something that I haven't really noted too much is that the greater portion of this world has a very Meso-American atmosphere to it.  There was the Mayan chanting in the swamp, the ocean huts at the Great Bay, and large dwelling mounds in the mountains, there are also stone temples in the canyon.  According to popular traditions about Native American magic, it was believed that wearing masks made the wearer into the individual depicted.  Many times this is literal, as in the above cases,  other times this is semi literal, and other times still this is metaphorical.

   In the semi literal cases are such masks as the Bremen Mask (a falcon-shaped mask) and Kamaro's Mask (the mask of a dancer).  When Link wears these masks, he still maintains his form as a Hylian (human), but gains the skills of the original owners.  The Bremen mask allows Link to charm animals into following him and  Kamaro's Mask allows Link to dance as the owner's lost spirit once did.

   Other times still, masks just exist as symbols.  Cremia gave Link the Romani Mask, which symbolizes that she recognizes him as an adult, and when two lovers exchange the sun and moon masks (which serve the function of wedding rings) the masks fuse into the Couple's Mask (given to a witness as a testament of the couple's love).

   While there is the matter of bringing something into reality, there is also the idea that masks are a facade.  The three bosses fought thus far died and in their death left nothing but their masks.  Through this, it is suggested that perhaps the monsters never were real, but that they were puppets on strings.  These puppets could be something like anchors that hold the curses down to lands since the Skull Kid cannot be in all these places at once to maintain his own mischief.  By killing the monsters and seizing the masks, the captive giants go free and set right what was wrong.

   I think this will be the first part of the mask discussion.  I will return to this again at the final showdown and complete the thought.  It will make more sense then.

Now let's get to that canyon.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Termina and the Five Stages of Grief: Majora's Mask part 16

    A while ago, somebody suggested that the regions of the land of Termina were each indicative of the Kubler-Ross Model of grief.  This is also known as the Five Stages of Grief.  While the original author who discussed this matter is lost to me, it is still of considerable importance to understanding this game.  I said I would give a detailed study of this game and though I don't always embody formality (especially when I do this eheheehehehe), it would feel inappropriate to leave out this theme coming to a complete understanding of the game.  So now I shall begin, and from this I hope clarify what happens next in this story.

   The Five Stages of Grief are traditionally listed as Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance.   The original application of this model was put to cases of loss or terminal illness.  Since the land is named Termina, and we know that the end of the world is fast approaching this land, this model seems appropriate.  Aside from the obvious fact this is a fantasy land, there is something considerably different about this one from Hyrule or Narnia or Middle Earth.  This world is very small and yet there is a beach and a humid swamp right next to snowy mountains and an arid canyon.  You would think somebody would notice such drastic changes in environment, but in truth the change of the lands appearance can be very easy to miss.  It's as though the lands flow into each other.  Of course variety is the spice of life, and in a a video game variety needs to be present to maintain the interest of those playing it.  Also, the reason for the small world is that after all, Link needs to get around quickly since he is being timed.  Nintendo tried the whole huge world thing with Wind Waker and people complained that sailing was tedious.  Those same people are complaining right now that there isn't enough to see in Skyward Sword, so suffice it to say that I feel about those opinions similar to how I feel about Mozart compared to musical fish children (probably the last we'll hear about musical fish children, probably)

   Returning to Majora's Mask, we'll begin with Clock Town.  This is where Link began his adventure and starts of every time he resets time.  With the people of Clock Town is the sense of denial.  As I mentioned in my First Three Days posts, people are making plans and celebrating the coming festival.  Nobody notices that the moon is looming over them or that they are at the epicenter of the crash site.  Perhaps the best example of this is the mayor.  The mayor assures Link and the people in his office that nothing bad will happen.  He is convinced that the Festival of Time will be a success.  Remember from my ending of the Ranch posts that he is staying in the farmhouse?  Clearly he done goofed up.  Denying that the world would end didn't stop the world from ending.

  Upon leaving Clock Town, Link went to the Swamp to the south.  There was the really angry king of the tree people who was torturing the monkey.  Swamps are quite humid places; they get quite heated.  Also there is a volcanic looking mountain in the Swamp, but instead of lava it is flowing over with poison that eats away at life.  When Link restores this place, the poison clears out and the king is returned to his senses by his daughter.  Wrath was set aside for clarity of thought.
Also note that the darkness around his eyes make him look like he's on fire.  

  Next, Link went to the mountains.  The mountains are snowing in the summer.  The stone people known as Gorons are freezing.  In their enclave their is a crying baby Goron.  Here the Gorons are weighing the options of freezing in the cold or staying inside with the screaming baby.  Since being outside isn't a good option, they'd rather stay inside with the long winded crying baby.  Link frees the land of the freezing weather and the Gorons can go out into the summer or stay inside where the baby has stopped crying.  At first I thought this was the weakest point of the metaphor, but when I put this in terms of "would you rather freeze in the cold or look after the screaming baby" it fit a little better.

  Following the mountain portion, Link went to the Great Bay.  The band was depressed and hid away in their enclave as they questioned the future of the band.  Lulu was depressed because she didn't think she would see her (unbelievably musically rock-most-ultimate) children ever again.  There is also this sense of seclusion in that everybody is tucked away and separated from one another.  The band is in their concert hall, the pirates are in their hideout, the sea snakes are hiding in caves in an abysmal hole in the ground, the turtle was in an island, and something I didn't mention before, there is a hut on the beach full of people turning freakishly into very large tarantulas.  Link restores Lulu's voice by returning her children and saving the ocean from the monster.  This allows the band to reassemble and perform.

  Often I've considered that the last two were interchangeable.  The Gorons are hiding in their cave while the pirates in the ocean area made a deal with Skull Kid to take the eggs.  These do alter the order of the five stages and while I doubt psychology always fits into a clean cut progression of one always to the next, it fits more appropriately if the Snowy place is bargaining and the Great Bay is depression.

  Why does the world of Termina revolve around the model of the stages of grief?  Well, aside from the moon crashing into it, there's a theory that's become quite popular lately.  I'll discuss this theory in either the last or next to last post of this series because of major spoilers, and it's also sort of a downer (yeah, moreso than the moon destroying the world).  What's important to note is that in rescuing each of these individual locations, Link doesn't push the people into the next phase of grief, he almost completely fixes each problem.  There are three of four giants that have been rescued from the Skull Kid's power and one more may be enough to stop the moon from falling.

  Given that Link has helped three of the four sets of people, what's the worst that could happen?  Remember that the final stage of the Kubler-Ross Model is Acceptance.  The thing you should know is that in the final area, everybody is already dead.

  We'll get to that after this next post.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Sea Turtles, Mate: Majora's Mask part 15

   Playing the song for Lulu makes her sing it for an island.  The island turns into a turtle with palm trees on its back and takes Link to the Great Bay Temple.  The temple is surrounded by what looks like a hurricane (in all its N64 glory).  The pirates also try to sail a boat to the temple, but the winds lift their boat and throw them into the sea.  Turtles that perform island identity theft are far more structurally sound means of transportation beyond pirate ships.  The turtle goes to the temple and Link hops off and enters to find turbines and pipes and stuff.  Turns out temples are the perfect places for large industrial centers of indoor plumbing and waste treatment.

  I often have found this to be a matter worth discussing.  What is the purpose of a temple?  I would assume it would be to worship something.  However, in so many of the Legend of Zelda games, these temples are full of puzzles and monsters.  That would be like going to church, and in order to get the church bulletin, you would have to slide boxes around over certain pressure plates to make the treasure chest holding the church bulletins appear.  Next, in order to get the communion crackers and wine, you would have to go down into the boiler room and measure water pressure and divert flow while being timed for the box to open up with the Eucharist in it.  Then, in order to put money in the offering plate, you would have to beat large stone-spitting squids to death with your church bulletin.  Finally, to hear the sermon, a giant fish comes out of nowhere and tries to eat you while being nearly impossible to hit in the murky water.  If that's how people worship in the Legend of Zelda, no wonder these temples are virtually empty.  Link must be a saint for enduring all of this.  I know a church and a temple aren't exactly the same thing, but I feel like the illustration makes the point.  I feel like I might be missing something about the nature of these temples, but if Nintendo ever thinks to write a second edition of Hyrule Historia, I'll let them discuss that to greater length.

So much hate.
  So giant fish, am I right?  His name is Gyorg, and he is wearing a mask like Goht and Odolwa were.  You ever see the movie Jaws?  Well, one fellow wearing green falls into the water, zero fellows wearing green come out.  The fish just throws itself against the platform and vomits piranhas.  He is also very hard to hit.  He is really hard to hit.  I don't know how else to put this.  Just try throwing a feather at a chandelier and then divide that by two, it's unpleasant and tedious.

   Link kills the fish, frees the third giant, and restores peace to the ocean.  The band of Zoras, the Indigo-gos, gets together (except the dead guy, because, you know) and performs the song the little Zora children wrote.  Lulu reveals the song they wrote was actually a song her mother used to sing...


Those little fish children are still better at music than Mozart.  Song of Time right outta there.  Next time we will be looking at more symbols and themes and then we will be diving right into the canyon from hell.  This is gonna be good.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Best Pirates: Majora's Mask part 14

    Link as a fish person swims into the pirate hideout.  After dodging patrol boats and sea mines and traversing an incredibly elaborate series of water works that exist for no defined purpose but to be mini puzzles.  Link finds himself in a pirate courtyard for Gerudo pirates.

    I realize that this entire series, I have been throwing a billion odd names all over the place so with sincerest and most courteous apologies allow me to define this one too.  The Gerudo people are a tribe that usually live in the desert that consists entirely of women.  All of these women are redheads without exception.  The matter of this race of all women's survival for hundreds of years is not discussed in the games (because E for everyone), I think it is safe to assume that if any questions are asked, one should defer to the Wikipedia article on the Amazons because I will not say any more on this.  All Gerudo women will have Gerudo daughters, but prophecies tell of a man being born among them who is exceptionally powerful and very evil.  This guy, Ganon, is villain of most of the games.  As discovered in Skyward Sword, this anomalous Gerudo exists due to a malevolent spirit that takes will take on human form and is constantly reincarnated over the years.  The important thing is red headed pirate ladies.

Here's some music to enrich your reading experience.  

After doing his best to avoid patrolling guards, Link handily gets captured and then promptly experiences defenestration or gets thrown off a wall or something of that sort.   I went and got a special mask to appear invisible to guards (like hiding under a cardboard box or barrel as a certain chain smoking spy featured immediately above these lines is known to do) and then worked my way toward a crawlspace.  In this crawlspace, Link sees a beehive hanging from the ceiling and the pirate captain lady is talking to one of her fellow pirates.  They discuss that Skull Kid (because who else) told them to take the eggs as they would reveal the secret entrance to the Great Bay Temple and unbelievable treasure.  Link takes a shot with his bow and knocks the beehive down chasing the pirates from the room.  Then sneaking around a bit more, he claims one of the four eggs in the hideout.  Sneaking around and avoiding the other guards (though having to fight with some because they are different than the pike wielding guards) leads to more eggs which fit in the ever convenient bottles.  However, these four eggs are incomplete as three more eggs must be obtained. Link swims there and finds that the eggs are guarded by large sea snakes.  As it turns out, Link has the power to emit electricity like an electric eel in this form and by doing so fries all the snakes.  

Upon rescuing the eggs and taking them to the marine biology lab.  The eggs hatch together and, putting Mozart to shame, write a jazz combination melody moments after being born.  Really gotta hand it to the little guys, maybe instead of playing Mozart for newborn infants, mothers will let their infants get kidnapped by pirates and sea monsters.  Could be risky but at least all the kids would come back as musical prodigies.  That's right Mozart, I'm talking to you.  What do you even do anymore?  Decompose? Ok, I think I've sold this at this point and should move on.  

Anyway, Link plays the song for the mother, who sings it at an island, and the island transforms into a large sea turtle with trees on its back.  Can you spell puzzles and dungeons? I think you can.  Also, unlike the first two, this one is quite tedious, though not as bad as the one that shall not be named from the previous game that was also big blue and wet.  Thankfully this is not a tutorial, and I can just hit the high points in the next post.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Ballad of the Big Mouth Billy Bass: Majora's Mask part 13

  Link, now with the aid of his horse, rides to the Great Bay (Refer to map, it's in the west, very hard to miss).  After jumping over some kind of storm wall with his horse (which shall from now on be referred to as Epona, because I feel kinda like Dudley Do-Right calling it horse all the time), Link finds himself on a vacant beach with a couple of huts and a strange building in the middle of the sea.

yeah, kinda like this.

  If you have played Super Smash Bros. Melee for the Nintendo Gamecube, you may recognize this scene.  It was the other Zelda map beside the really big one that everyone plays.  Anyhow, Tatl the fairy directs Links attention to a large flock of seagulls circling over something in the water.  Link swims toward it because flocks of seagulls never just show up without a reason in these games.  It turns out that it is a Zora.  Zoras are fish people who generally live in lakes.  Specifically, these Zoras are Lake or Ocean Zoras.  This is to discern them from River Zoras, who are draconic monsters that jump out of bodies of water and spit fireballs at passerbys.  River Zoras do not exist in Termina, and we know pretty much nothing about their origins, so when we talk about Ocean or Lake Zoras, we will just refer to them as Zoras.

  If there is anything to be learned about Zoras, it is that they are incredibly delicate.  Any sudden change to water temperature and you are looking at the potential extinction of large populations.  That is why the villains in other games always look to freeze the Zoras' abodes.  It is also of interest that oceans are usually far from a preferable environment for Zoras.  In Legend of Zelda Wind Waker, the Zoras have evolved into the birdlike Rito people so that they can fly from island to island rather than swim in the vast dangerous oceans.  That's also not particularly important and this all may be a bit confusing, so I'll just get back to this dying Zora and let you figure out the rest on your own.

   Link pushes the Zora to shore (because they can also live on land) and the Zora tells Link that he is dying and his spirit is broken.  By playing the Song of Healing (a.k.a. the "you're getting a new mask" song) to the fish person,  the Zora jumps up, pulls out a guitar made of fish bones, and starts playing a song to explain his story up to this point (if you think that sounds absurd seeing how he was on death's doorstep, just remember aliens).  The Zora introduces himself as Mikau, a guitarist for the popular band The Indigo-gos.  He tells of how his girlfriend and lead singer of the band, Lulu, laid several eggs (That may sound like way too much information, but I would give all the gold in the world to hear either Justin Bieber or One Direction sing a song about that.  I'll even meet them halfway and write the lyrics).  These eggs had to be taken to the marine biology lab off the coast due to the sudden violent conditions of the ocean, but the eggs were stolen by pirates.  Mikau went to reclaim the eggs, but was captured and mortally wounded by the pirates.

It's like Alvin and the Chipmunks but with fish.
 Also, Mikau is second from right and Lulu is front and center.
   Having sung all this with the phrase "yeah baby" thrown in there repeatedly, he falls over dead.  Link gives him a proper burial, and his spirit inhabits a mask.  Link can now turn into a Zora.

   Zora Link swims to the concert hall of the Zoras where he meets and talks with the band and its adoring fans who are occasionally stalkers but don't sell masks on the side so it's cool.  The band is in a state of turmoil since Mikau left to find the eggs (and is dead but that'll be our little secret) and as such spirits are low.  Lulu is mute and depressed because the eggs are gone.  Since Link is the hero, he goes to retake the eggs from the pirates.  I love this part so much that I'll save it for the next post.  Maybe when I'm done with this series I'll link all the posts together for the sake of posterity.  We'll cross that bridge when we get there.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

A Tale of Two Sisters: Majora's Mask part 12

   So as we come to the third day, the moon fills the sky over the ranch.  Cremia comes to accept what the people of Clock Town realized at this time, the world is going to end.  It turns out the late night journey to Clock Town to make the delivery was not simply a delivery run.  Populating the farmhouse on the ranch is the mayor of Clock Town, and the owners of the town's inn.  The lady who owns the inn and her daughter Anju, are friends of Cremia.  Anju was waiting for the return of her missing fiancee Kafei, but he has disappeared (we'll discuss this later).  Cremia had braved the bandits that may have killed her father in a last ditch effort to rescue her closest friends from the site where the moon will land.  Of course the ranch isn't any safer, and I think Cremia knows that.  (In the real world, that meteorite landed in Siberia and caused a mess.  That rock was the size of a bus.  This is the moon we're talking about.  With a big face too.  Falling moons never bode well for the planet below.)

   Cremia is as upset as you'd expect someone to be hours away from the world's end.  However, her little sister is far from it.  Romani is excited not because she understands what's going on, but because her older sister is going to let her drink Chateau Romani.  Chateau Romani is a special beverage reserved only for adults.  Guess what? It's probably, though never specified (likely to maintain the very flimsy E for everyone rating), alcohol.  Cremia is drugging her sister so that she will not have to experience the horror of the end of the world.  Quite like everything else about this ranch, it's a cause of great unease.  It's a truly despicable thing to see this family that survived  villainous extraterrestrial visitors and murderous bandits to be wiped out in the collision of heavenly bodies.  It's perhaps the most existential of endings for such innocent characters.

   Before we depart from these two sisters for the last time, I'd like to take a look at how these characters are something of foils.  Seeing how they are two character models for a single character from the previous game, it would make sense that they have more in common than just being sisters.

  Romani is the more idealistic of the two sisters.  In a rather funny manner, she refers to herself in the third person all the time and calls Link "grasshopper" for wearing green.  She has faith in everyone around her including Link even though he was a complete stranger from another world.  The claim of aliens seems bizarre at first to be in a fantasy game.  However, considering this is a world where any number of mystical creatures exist, the next step beyond for the imagination to reach would have to be among the stars.  When her claims turn out to be true, it shows that her strange faith no matter how outlandish, suggests a greater sense of understanding that logic could not bestow.

  Cremia tends to be more realistic because she has not had the wondrous life of her sister.  She is the one who acknowledges her father's death, acknowledges the dangers and cruelty of the world around her, and acknowledges that this world is ending in a most hopeless manner.  She struggled to make sure the ranch would be productive despite the obstacles it faced, took the burden of running a business that seemed everything in the world was out to end, and then at the end of it all looked in the sky and saw that the game was unwinnable from the start.  Her friend that is staying at the ranch in the final hours has a most interesting history.  Both Cremia and Anju liked the same man, I'm pretty sure they squabbled over him some time in the past, but all that to say Anju ended up with Kafei.  Many accused Kafei of having eloped with Cremia, but it is apparent that Kafei is no where to be found.  In those final hours, both Cremia and Anju have their friendship even when Kafei was lost forever (I swear there's a reason for his absence.  It's not that he's the worst fiancee ever.  I promise we'll get to him in more detail in a later post.  He's actually pretty cool).

   Perhaps the last thing I'll say on these two characters is the matter of adulthood.  Cremia considered Link an adult after he protected the wagon, yet she did not consider Romani an adult because the alien threat the younger sister kept claiming sounded like a childish story.  A really twisted childish story, but a childish story nonetheless.  Romani is finally rewarded by her sister the recognition of being an adult.  Romani asks if she can have a mask like the one Link received, and Cremia tells her sister that she'll make another one in the morning.  Romani has proven herself an adult by taking the responsibility of protecting the ranch, but her victory is hollow since Cremia is only justifying drugging her sister.  It is just as Cremia's victory is hollow since the world will end and her efforts will be for nothing.  The ray of hope in it all is that since Romani's belief in the aliens proved to be true, perhaps the prize that she awaits in the morning will come to her as well.

   As the fate of the ranch rode on Link's intervention, so too does the fate of Termina. And to that we shall return in the next post.

Friday, February 15, 2013

The Great Wagon Robbery: Majora's Mask part 11

    There is something of an interesting dichotomy existing between the events in the ranch on the first night and the events in the ranch on the second night.  The previous post was the one about aliens and it centered around the little sister named Romani.  This post is about the older sister named Cremia as she has to make a delivery to Clock Town.

    Cremia heard from her little sister that Link helped her guard the farm.  While I don't think Cremia still believes in the aliens, she knows there are other dangers around the ranch that warrant trust in Link's abilities to keep people safe.  She asks Link to accompany her in the wagon so that she could have someone to talk to on the way into town.  

    While taking the wagon down the road from the ranch, Cremia tells Link that her father died and that she and her little sister have been put in charge of the ranch.  The death of the father is not explained in any great detail, but I have two theories as to how that happened.  The first theory is aliens, because as of the previous night, that is a thing.  It could be safe to say that the sisters' father fought against the aliens each year and that Romani, being adventurous and extroverted as she is, found out about it.  She probably helped him out once or twice, but then the father was killed in one such defense.  While I think this father knew about the aliens, the likelihood of being killed by the aliens is pretty slim since Romani seems pretty upbeat about fighting the aliens.  As young as she is, I think she'd be pretty distraught if the aliens killed her father in front of her.  What happens on the second night is probably a more likely theory as to what happened to the father.

   During the trip down the road, Cremia also notes that the moon is falling and she thinks out loud that perhaps her farm is far enough away and shielded by the cliffs that they'll be safe.  Her train of thought is broken when she sees a road block ahead.  She then takes charge and tells Link to get his bow ready.

  As they take an alternate route, two fellows on horses wearing masks give chase, letting out war whoops and brandishing pitch forks while doing so.  While the identities of the individuals are not disclosed at this part, traveling to the neighboring farm by day suggests these are the Gorman brothers, a remarkably antagonizing family that seeks to ruin Romani Ranch.  In Hyrule, during the events of the previous game, Gorman seizes control of Lon Lon Ranch (Romani Ranch's Hyrule counterpart) after expelling Malon's (Cremia and Romani's Hyrule counterpart) father.  Link set things straight then and continues to do so this time as well.

  My guess is that Cremia and Romani's father really died while dealing with these bandits in the past.  This would suggest why Cremia is much more solemn than her little sister is.  It should also be noted that these bandits' masks have glowing eyes just like the aliens, so it is safe to say Cremia imagines Romani's belief in aliens to be a way of coping with these dangerous ruffians.  It would also suggest why Cremia and Romani both needed Link's help in overcoming these obstacles.  While Romani had her father to help fight the aliens, Cremia needed her father to travel safely through the dangerous territory.

  After evading the bandits, Cremia gives Link a mask which she signifies that she recognizes him as an adult.  In many ways, this suggests that Link proves to be the man that Romani and Cremia's father was as he aided the family in their father's absence.  Link and Cremia go separate ways.

  The conclusion of the Romani Ranch adventures will come in the next post.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Dairy Farmers and Aliens: Majora's Mask part 10

You seriously have no idea how long I've waited to post this.
Using the powder keg, Link blasts a giant boulder to pieces that blocked the way into a ranch.  Entering the ranch, he is finally reunited with his horse.  However, the horse is held in a stable by the family that owns the ranch.  They seem to understand Link's dilemma of losing the horse, and he gets his horse back.  The ranch is owned by two sisters, Romani and Cremia.  Romani is the younger daughter, and she asks Link for help.

Romani is concerned that come nightfall, a mysterious presence threatens the ranch every year before the big festival in Clock Town.  This presence comes down from the sky in a bright orange light and threatens to steal the cows. Romani's older sister does not believe her, but she seems pretty sure this is a real threat.  I'm not saying its aliens, but yeah, you better believe it's aliens.

I want to believe.
This scene is honestly one of the most unexpected scenes in this game.  I know that at the beginning of this blog series I was saying how many horrific elements exist in this game. It may not seem like that many since I've been going through the more tame parts of the story at present, but believe me when I say this scene comes out of nowhere.

As you can see on that alien, it's holding its claws out in front of it as though it's poised to grab something.  Its eyes glow and it hovers over the ground.  They are also about the size of that horse.  There is also lots of them, and they don't stop coming until the crack of dawn.  They make strange noises that almost sound mechanical and die in a flash of light when hit by an arrow.  Again, not saying they're aliens, but yeah I kinda did just say they were aliens.

What is perhaps the most shocking part of this scene is if Link fails to stop the aliens from reaching the barn. They fly their orange ball of light over the barn, rip its roof off, and then proceed to take the cows and Romani.  Cremia wakes up the next morning to find the barn is a wreck, the cows are gone, and her little sister has been taken.  She is left a grieving wreck since she blames herself for her sister's abduction by not believing her.  When the third day arrives, the aliens return Romani, but not without wiping her entire memory and leaving her in a vegetative state.  Since the Legend of Zelda series plays out like a fairy tale, would anybody expect anything like this?  That would be like Snow White ending with the Prince giving Snow White a kiss and then suddenly a Chest Burster from Ridley Scott's Alien jumps out of her and tears him to shreds.  There is nobody who would expect it.  Furthermore, the aliens' origin and explanation is never visited.  Because this whole occurrence is so spontaneous and dark, it makes for that moment that everybody thinks of when playing this game, except for maybe the moon, which I should remind you is still an issue in case you forgot.

I feel like these aliens almost play along with the moon on the ideas of astrology that the stars and planets has a role in the good and ill omens of the world.  In the days of the black death in our world, the positions of the planets were attributed in causing the pox that wiped out a third of the western world.  Since the moon is falling out of orbit, it would make sense that other happenings among the stars would give signs to herald the end of time. However, the aliens were attributed to being an annual occurrence whereas the moon falling was another matter entirely.

In the end, the aliens remain unknown and with the dawn of the next morning, the ranch returns to normal.  Cremia continues to believe her sister was making wild claims, but the ranch was not destroyed and these two sisters were not separated.

Romani Ranch in the next post as Link now has to help the older sister.

Rollin' Around at the Speed of Sound: Majora's Mask part 9

 Link turns into a Goron by putting on the mask.  With this form he has greater strength, is impervious to fire, and most notably has the capacity to roll up into a ball.  Using his strength he finds a hot spring in the crypt of Darmani.  Putting the boiling water in a bottle, he thaws out an old goron who tries to teach him a song, but fails because he is to frail to perform under the intense winter conditions.  The old goron tells Link to go to the enclave of his people where a very annoying wailing is heard.  This wailing comes from a small child Goron who apparently has a voice that carries far and echoes throughout the mountain hollow.  Link performs what little of the song the elder managed to play which calms the small rock child person as he sings the rest of the song. The song is a lullaby that, when combined with the unbelievable acoustics of this enclave, knocks out everyone except Link.

   Link goes to the Snow Temple and using the lens of truth discovers a very large Goron is blocking the path and is blowing the cold stream of air.  Link plays the song and knocks out the Goron, allowing access to the temple that looks like something the Witch King of Angmar would build if he were an Eskimo 

   In this portion where I would describe the solving of puzzles and stuff if this were a tutorial, I will instead describe what the Witch King of Angmar would be like if he were an Eskimo   Think about it, he was a king of the north, so it wouldn't be entirely outside of the realm of possibility.  He would probably build large pointy structures out of ice and then would hunt walrus with his Nazgul pals.  Doing the nose thing that Eskimos do as a substitute for kissing would be a problem since the Witch King doesn't exactly have a nose and I don't believe his helmet with the creepy eyes and mouth accommodates for his lack of a nose either.  He would probably still have terrible luck with women given that they are the only ones who can kill him.  I can't help but imagine those Christmas ornaments with the penguins and the little Eskimo boy, and I just see the Witch King caroling with the little penguins on a block of ice.  This probably ruins the character for some people and I give my deepest apologies to J R R Tolkien, but if someone would be so kind as to make a children's story involving the Witch King as an Eskimo I would deeply appreciate that.

All that said, back to the story.

Link solves all the puzzles in the dungeon to come upon a large mechanical bovine thing frozen in a block of ice.  Using the fire arrows found in this temple, he melts the ice causing the bull to charge.  By using the ability to curl up and roll around, he proceeds to perform a Soviet Russia interpretation of the Running of the Bulls.  By chasing down the bull (I believe his name is Goht) in a manner similar to that inane blue hedgehog from another video game series that shall remain anonymous, Link slays the monster, takes its mask, and releases another giant.

He also restores spring and buys a powder keg.  Two things Punxsutawney Phil does annually.

Next up is the post I think we've all been waiting for. Even if you didn't think you were waiting for it, you totally were, and you just didn't know it yet.  Welcome to the ranch.

The Misty Mountains Cold: Majora's Mask part 8

   Link next winds up in a snowy mountain area previously inaccessible because of a wall of ice blocking the entrance.  Thanks to his bow, Link is able to shoot a large icicle that shatters the wall of ice, allowing him to pass.  Entering this snowy mountain area to the north yields what else but snow (refer to map in previous post for location of snowy mountain area).

   Can there be anything odd about massive snow drifts in the mountains?  Apparently there can.  Y'see, when we were in the swamp area, it was balmy and stuff. That's because it's spring time everywhere else.  However, in this mountainous area, it's always winter and never Christmas.  You run around a bit and see freezing Gorons.  Gorons for all interested are creatures born of mountains that eat rocks and are apparently all male.  They usually prefer areas of intense heat, which is why it should be noted that as they show up they are all shivering.  Link quests around a bit (which is the verb we use when a hero is wandering around) to find a cave a great distance off.  Guided by the infamous tutorial owl,* you are led across invisible platforms in a sort of leap of faith moment.

*for all who don't know him, he's an incredibly verbose owl who shows up in several previous games since it is made clear by Hyrule Historia that he is practically immortal.  Why he is so infamous is that after talking your ear off, he asks if you need him to repeat everything he just said, and if you're not careful you just might let him do that.

He gives you a lens that allows you to see what's invisible, namely the ghost of a dead Beowulf-esque Goron.  His name is Darmani, and he challenges Link to follow him to his grave.  After climbing an invisible ladder that is incredibly misleading at times, Link finds his grave and hears Darmani's woes.  Darmani went off to stop the eternal winter by going to the snow temple (which presumable has a monster in it like the swamp temple did) and was suddenly blown off a cliff by an invisible force to his death.

Darmani, upset that he could not save his people has become a restless spirit, so Link plays that song the creepy mask guy taught him to soothe his soul.  Darmani then remembers his heroic legacy and his soul goes to rest in the form of a mask.  This mask is quite similar to the one of the deku spirit impressed upon Link and Link finds that when he puts on this mask, he turns into a large rock person fellow as well.

and so the adventures of fat stone Link continue in the next post.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Witch, The Monkey, and the Mayan: Majora's Mask part 7

It's kinda fuzzy, but I think this will do the trick.  

 There's really not a whole lot to say here, so I'll hit the high points.

  Link and Tatl arrive in a swamp that is full of poisonous water.  They are guided by a monkey through the perilous swamp full of spinning turtles covered with spikes (kinda like something from another Nintendo game full of mushrooms and plumbers) where they find a witch.  This witch, like many of the other denizens of Termina, is the alter ego of a witch he met in Hyrule.  A witch who actually tried to kill him.  However, in this world she is injured and apparently just owns a boat rental shop.  She's been injured by the Skull Kid and asks for Link to bring her medicine.  Given that she is the lesser of two evils, Link visits the potion shop which happens to be owned by her sister.  I find this to be an amusing play on the fact that they are bosses (as in the last jerk in a dungeon or temple) in Ocarina of Time and they are bosses (as in the overseeing role of a business) in Majora's Mask.

   After helping the witch and getting a boat, Link arrives at the palace of the tree people (refer to deku palace on the blurry map. It's the southernmost label)  They won't let Link in because he is human.  Link then uses his mask to allow him to transform into his tree person form.  Despite being the only tree in the world to have a green sock cap and blonde hair, the guards let him in none the wiser.  Link sees another monkey in a cage and a rather pissed off king on a throne.  I'll discuss the king's anger in greater detail in a later post, but it's basically because he thinks the monkey kidnapped his daughter.  After doing some Metal Gear Solid-esque sneaking around, Link gets to the monkey and finds out the tree princess was captured in the temple on top of the mountain/volcano looking thing that is spewing poison.  The monkey teaches Link a song of awakening.

   Some stuff happens that is of no great importance and then Link winds up at the first temple in this game.  It's just some standard dungeon crawling.  You kill some monsters, solve puzzles, get a bow and some arrows at some point, and all the while you do this the background music comprises of a war whoop in the distance.  At the end of the temple, you find out who's been making this noise.

    I said all this up to now to get to this part.  A giant tribal fellow in war paint and a mask drops from the ceiling with a giant shield and a sword about three or four times bigger than you are.  His name is Odolwa, the masked jungle warrior.  I'm just going to say that it's important to note all the bosses for each dungeon wear masks.  He begins to chant in Mayan:

"K'iinam took ool! K'iinam took ool!"

"Tookik taali! Tookik taal!"

"A'alik beora! A'alik beora!"

this translates to:

 "Head will ache and burn. Head will ache and burn."

"Come burn. Come burn."

"Dance now. Dance now."

Perhaps this doesn't make a great deal of sense.  So here's his chant.

Still doesn't make sense?  Well what do you expect from a guy whose name makes you flip your tongue upside-down?

He hops around, does some crazy tribal dances that summon tarantulas from the ceiling, and does a spinny move with his sword.  I know he's Mayan, and I know this game is apocalypse themed, but I think these two factors are unrelated.  Link has the benefit of arrows now, so he peppers this guy with arrows and then stabs him when he falls to his knees.  It's a relatively simple fight, but when he dies he leaves behind just his mask.

When Link picks up the mask he is sent to strange place with a waterfall obscuring a large creature.  An exchange occurs between Tatl (probably because Link is mute) and the giant regarding a potential plan to stop the end of the world.  It is then made clear that this giant is something of a guardian and that there are three others in each area of the world.  He teaches Link the Oath to Order, which is a song of summoning for this large giant.  Having a large giant on your side and all his bros could help you hold up the moon or something.

Link saves the tree princess (don't get attached. that's the only princess who gets saved in the entire game). A rather comical portion of this is that in order to carry her to the palace, Link places her in the small bottle he got from the witches. They return to the king's palace to find the monkey about to be lowered into a boiling pot. In response the princess beats up the king for his rash actions after Link pulls her out of the bottle.

Oh and also by killing Odolwa, the poison in the swamp clears out and everybody is happy.  Except for the fact the moon is just hours away from falling again.  Link plays the Song of Time, and returns to the first day.