Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Snake and the Ocelot: Snake Eater part 2

Snake wakes up the next morning to EVA warning him that the Reds are coming.  She hops into a trap door beneath the bed and notes that Ocelot is leading these soldiers.  Since this game isn't about cover based shooting, the possibilities of how to dispatch the enemies are pretty widespread.  This was at a point when military games weren't merely whackamole in gritty dystopian environments with steroid space marines grunting and sawing each other in half (no hard feelings, Cliffy).  Snake has access to a shotgun and a machine gun at this point as well as the gun he got from EVA, just so long as he remembers to equip the said weapons.  He has probably found a fair number of grenades at this point and could also resort to sneaking up and getting them with his knife, which if difficult but doable.

I chose to jump into the trap door and then when they went into the room doing all the proper breaching procedures and stuff, I went outside and cleared them out from the back ducking in and out of cover with a shotgun (it's still not really the same as cover based shooting because they recognize their advantage in numbers and can quickly turn the situation around if you don't think on your feet).  As far as stealth goes, I have nothing against the Splinter Cell games, but they don't really let me do this.
For those who know my common greeting gesture, it comes from this.
Not exactly the best character to borrow anything from, but whatever.

After dealing with all these guys, EVA (w/ motorcycle helmet on to hide face) is being held at gunpoint by Ocelot.  Ocelot does everything to get Snake's attention to show him his "cool new revolver."  He also keeps Snake at a distance so that Snake doesn't beat him in CQC again.  Snake doesn't have to attack Ocelot in combat, because he knows he can just attack Ocelot's ego.  Snake tells him that the revolver is a nice gun but more for gun shows and collectors and not for durability or use in war.  Ocelot gets upset about this and tries to shoot Snake only to realize he's out of ammo.  Snake points out that the Colt Single Action revolver holds only six bullets while the Makarov holds eight.  This exchange gives EVA enough time to take down Ocelot and then back flip off of his face with her motorcycle.

With Ocelot's ego thoroughly destroyed, he runs off to get better with guns and probably get more cheerleaders since Snake killed them all.  EVA takes aim at Ocelot, but Snake tells her to let him go since he's still young and stupid (and in all the non-prequel titles).  She then does some crazy motorcross stuff to get back to the Soviet base in time so that Ocelot doesn't blow her cover upon realizing that she would be missing.  Her psychology when driving is discussed much further down the road, but basically she loses all inhibitions when driving which usually results in her doing death defying acts.

So why does Ocelot suck so much?  He's supposed to be this special forces guy leading an entire squad and yet he and his team get defeated again and again by a single soldier.  Well, to be fair, I don't know much about higher ups in the military.  I've never been on a battlefield, or in a military base, and I've never seen the few soldiers I know in action.  What my best guess is at Ocelot's deal comes from the philosophy of the samurai.  This is a military game made in Japan.  It's bound to show up sooner or later.

Snake is an honor bound soldier.  He almost fits the mold of the legendary heroes of Japanese folklore perfectly.  He is well trained, completely loyal to his country, and has a deep bond with his mentor.   Like many of the samurai of legend, who by social order only held the title of samurai by representing and protecting a shogunate or in this case country, he is put at odds with his own understanding by being forced to challenge his teacher who has deserted the land she was sworn to protect.  Through all of this, he faces almost mythical adversity in the members of the Cobra unit which finally comes to a climax in his upcoming battle with The Boss.  Despite the challenge against everything he thinks he understands, he doesn't compromise his ethics or his place as a soldier.

Ocelot is pretty much the antithesis of everything Snake is.  His rash behavior and massive ego are considered two of the greatest vices a warrior in Japanese culture and folklore could have.  Everything he does is very showy, and it has proven and will continue to prove to cause nothing but trouble.  The fact he keeps failing suggests he has been taught how to fight and not how to be a soldier on the deeper metaphysical level.  It's apparent at some point between MGS3 and the rest of the Metal Gear series this changes as he becomes worthy to be the major antagonist of the series.

It should also be noted that rivalry is a huge trope in just about every story coming from Japan in the 20th century.  For further reading refer to Ash and Gary (or Red and Blue), Goku and Vegeta, Yugi and Kaiba, Takumi and Keisuke (if you're a hipster), Kamina and Kittan, Mega Man and Proto Man, X and Zero, Sonic and Shadow the Hedgehog, Raiden and Vamp (also from MGS), Godzilla and King Ghidorah, Ryu and Ken, Raiden and Shao Khan (different Raiden), and the list goes on and on.  To be honest, I'm shocked I could list that many.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Serpent and The Woman: Snake Eater part 1

   We return to the story in which the world is on the brink of widespread turmoil.  Major Tom gives a briefing of the situation as Snake, patched up after a week in the best ICU the West could muster, flies inside a sort of shuttle pod (a D-21 to spy plane fanatics) attached to a Lockheed M-21 (precursor to the SR-71 Blackbird reconnaissance jet and variant of the A-12. for those who don't know planes, it's the thing that the X-men get around in).  Basically, FOX unit looks awful because the mission that should've been a quick easy in n' out has brought the Cold War closer to eruption into World War III.  The events that occurred were unforeseeable and as a result Snake and the FOX unit are given a second chance. Operation Snake Eater.
Cold War had awesome planes, that's for sure.

    A phone call between Khrushchev and President Lyndon B. Johnson involves the two world leaders piecing together what all has occurred on this mission.  The issue of The Boss' defection to Volgin's side has frightened the Soviet establishment and as such they need Snake to assassinate Volgin, The Cobra Unit, The Boss, and destroy the Shagohod.  Since the nuclear assault has been interpreted as American aggression, Snake will not be welcome in Russia, and he will still be hunted by Russian soldiers. Not leaving Snake completely helpless, the Reds agree to send in two former NSA operatives who defected to the Soviets and have infiltrated Volgin's ranks.  These operatives are under the codenames ADAM and EVA.  Also, Snake has the support team of Major Tom (now called Major Zero because he mistakenly chose the first one after one of the discovered tunnels in the movie The Great Escape), Para Medic (who is about to lose her medical license if Snake Eater fails, she also really likes movies), and Sigint (the new guy, a black man who specializes in R&D of weapons and equipment).
Zero and Paramedic.
They must live in a movie theater or something.
   The D-21 detaches from really high up in the atmosphere as it passes Soviet air patrols undetected.  Snake deploys into just about the same clearing he landed in for the Virtuous Mission.  After sneaking around some, he hears a horse in the jungle.  After approaching the horse, The Boss comes out.  She is displeased with Snake and the fact he holds onto the past (as represented by the bandanna he wears that he took from her after he plummeted off the bridge).  She shoots the D-21 that landed nearby enough times that it explodes.  After disassembling Snake's gun (seeing how Snake is an amazing soldier and how this is the second time The Boss has destroyed his gun, it says something about how unstoppable she is), she rides off on her horse, but not without stomping on Snake's hand.  She vows that she will kill Snake the next time they meet.

Anyone who can wear a white combat uniform at night
is inviting you to get destroyed.  
  Snake is pretty upset about this, but he continues with the mission because that's the only thing that makes sense (spoiler:  not for long).  Arriving at the place he found Sokolov the first time, he encounters an individual on a motorcycle.  Having been told this was where he would meet ADAM, he requests the password.  The person on the motorcycle doesn't give a password, nor does this individual turn off the light or motor of the bike.  It draws a lot of attention as you could imagine.  As Russian soldiers come out to get them, the person on the motorcycle pulls out a Chinese pistol and kills all of the Russians.  After this madness, the person is revealed to be a woman as she removes her helmet and for good measure unzips her combat uniform down to her navel.  I know that sounds incredibly unprofessional and probably gets at the claim that video games have sexist elements, and it might be just a little, but I swear if you haven't caught on already the developers going for something here.  Her name is EVA by the way.

  She asks Jack whats his code name, to which he says Snake.  She then follows up with "So have you come to tempt me?" You see, the grand irony of it all is that although she is supposed to be on his side, she is doing pretty much everything in her power to get his attention away from the mission.  There is also the Biblical irony that it is the woman that is tempting the snake in the garden.  It presents this idea that all conventional wisdom has been turned on its head.  It should also be noted that Snake is incredibly meek for someone who is supposed to be crawling on his stomach, sneaking around, and killing some crazy terrorists.  It almost gives a sense that an angel fell (HALO jump) to become a Snake (Naked Snake) to set straight a Garden (the jungle) seized by pandemonium (the mission).  At least the Snake encountered the woman first, that lines up (spoiler:  not really)

  In the face of such temptation, Snake manages to resist.  He just ran into The Boss, whom he worshiped, and she pretty much gave him the shaft.  However, EVA does give Snake something that would help with the mission, a gun.  It's pretty much a case of love at first sight when Snake beholds the gun.  He praises all of its qualities as though it was handcrafted for him.  He accepts the gun and consequentially accepts EVA as well (I could write pages about the character of EVA. There's a lot of to be said for and against her characterization with regards to feminism, misogyny, and the video game industry.  Maybe I will later.  If Anita Sarkeesian should stumble upon this, I'd be more than willing to share all my thoughts on this matter, though I bet she could say it a lot better than I can.)

  By way of Para-Medic's request, Snake decides to get some sleep (by saving the game).  EVA wanders off to do something that we will address next time.

Monday, March 18, 2013

ooooh yes the bees!

Before I get back into more Metal Gear, I want to talk about a mod I think you all should know about.

Do you like Majora's Mask?  I suppose you like it enough to have read any of the previous series.

Are you aware of Nicholas Cage's existence, for better or for worse?  I certainly hope so.

Wouldn't it be great if somebody combined the two?  No, it would not, but who cares what you or I think?

Thanks to the work of popular youtuber Criken and his friend Shane, we now have access to this abomination

By way of this all new texture pack, you can reenact the movie Face Off.  The best part is, it's less John Travolta and more everyone else.  You will question whether or not the horrors of Termina can ever be reversed past doomsday.  Skull Kid doesn't turn Kafei into a boy, he turns him into Nic Cage.  The mask was created by Nic Cage.  Link IS Nic Cage, and all transformations still look like Nic Cage.  Truly this is the devil's work.

Critics have already been calling this new take of an old title a guaranteed Call of Duty killer.  Now, every Mountain Dew chugging prestigionado can set CoD Blops Zombies aside and live their favorite nightmare by becoming the most enthusiastic actor in the world.

Check it out, test your nerve, and let the nightmares and ruined childhoods begin.

You've met a terrible face, haven't you?

Certainly brings new meaning to the scene where Link drops the bees on the pirates.

You can also run the streets of Clock Town shouting "I'M A TREE PERSON! I'M A TREE PERSON! AAAAHHHHH"

Because face it, one day, every day, every where, somewhere out there, somebody wakes up one morning to find they have been turned into Nic Cage, and then you realize what you had.  You realize that you truly did want that cake that your wife ate. (women included, you all become a Nic Cage when you transform)  You will shout "TA DAH" and have everybody look at you like a crazy person.  And then you will find yourself breaking down in Las Vegas with your only daughter when you should've gotten a hair cut, and you give her the bunny that you insisted should stay in the box.  You're gonna go far, kid.  You're gonna go far.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Skyfall, Paradise Lost: Snake Eater Intro

     So I'm taking us back to square zero, before the cyborgs, before the clones, before the private military contractors and even before the namesake Metal Gears.  Our story takes us back to 1964.  It begins as pretty much all historic films begin, white words on a black background.  "After the end of World War II, the world was split into two -- east and west.  This marked the beginning of the era called the Cold War."  It's nice to know in a story about crazy science fiction and terrorists, we can begin with something we are familiar with. Or so we thought, and as we shall soon see, so our hero also thought.

    Once upon a time, over the skies of Soviet Russia, a single plane flies through the night.  The plane flies over the lonely clouds, and it is an American plane.  Within, a sort of mission control preps for a combat deployment, and below the plane sits a single soldier smoking a cigar.  His name is Jack, and he suggests his name is John Doe (whether or not this is truly his name is up to the audience, as are most things in this series).  As the plane flies over the drop site, Jack reluctantly puts out his cigar and puts an oxygen mask over his face.  As the the door opens for Jack to prepare his dive, the sun rises over the clouds.  Jack is the morning star rising from the uniformity of the drab clouds.  He takes his dive from the plane, performing the first HALO (High Altitude-Low Opening) jump in history.  As he falls, his British commanding officer explains the gravity of the coming mission.  Jack was selected for a special forces unit called FOX and he will be embarking upon its virtuous mission (a sort of maiden voyage/proving ground in the intelligence community).

    He is informed that the VIP he will be recovering is Russian rocket scientist and weapons engineer Nikolai Stephanovich Sokolov.  This scientist (in fiction of course) was responsible for the Sputnik rockets, launching Yuri Gagarin into space, and countless other projects for the USSR.  When pressured to design something terrible, Sokolov and his family defected to the United States.  This resulted in the Cuban Missile Crisis, in which the nukes in Cuba would be dismantled under the condition that Sokolov be returned to the Soviet Union.  America consented, promising Sokolov they would rescue him again.

   Jack touches down in a forest around the research facility.  He pulls away his parachuting equipment and oxygen mask to reveal a face too familiar to the series.
The man who would be boss.
   The commanding officer (codename Major Tom) gives Jack the codename Naked Snake (not Solid Snake, this is the 60s).  The codename is Naked because Snake cannot bring anything on this mission that would suggest his ties to America.  Although he is the only man on the ground, he has a support team up in the plane.  Major Tom keeps him updated on the mission objectives, Para Medic is the team doctor to instruct Snake on nature survival, and finally The Boss.  The Boss, perhaps the most influential character in the series, is the mother of the special forces, the woman who won WWII for the allies, and Snake's personal mentor when he was in the Green Berets.  She practically created the world in which the series is set.  Snake is quite upset that it has been so long since he heard from her (ya gotta understand, they're soldiers and there's a war, the characterization in these games is pretty serious even though the series doesn't always take itself seriously).  The Boss tells Snake that he should not be upset in the absence of his comrades.  She mentions that today's allies could be tomorrow's enemies and a soldier's virtues are dependent upon how well they keep the mission first and foremost.  Snakes doesn't really understand what she is telling him, but he gets the part about following the mission.  Major Tom tells Snake that the Boss is presently in a submarine in the Arctic Circle.  The Boss reminds Snake that since he doesn't have weapons beyond his tranquilizer gun and knife, he must resort to the CQC (close quarters combat) training she taught him.

  Snake gets through the jungle after evading Russian guards and crocodiles in a swamp (its a research facility, so there's gonna be a lot of flora and fauna from around the world.  also, Hideo Kojima, the creator of these games has a thing for animals as you will soon see).  Upon reaching the place the Russians are holding Sokolov hostage, he finds Sokolov burning pages of a tank he calls the Shagohod.  He tells Snake that he is too late and that the weapon he was designing is almost complete.  Snake had only come to recover Sokolov and by taking him the Soviets will not have the means of successfully operating the Shagohod.  The Shagohod is a treaded tank armed to the teeth with weapons for any situation.  Its crowning weapon is the ability to launch nuclear warheads anywhere in the world (but it is not a Metal Gear, so you know).  As Snake is leaving the facility with Sokolov, a Russian guard catches sight of him.

  As it turns out, the Russians are not looking for Snake, because another Russian with an oddly American accent shows up.  This Russian kills all seven Soviet Guards.  Sokolov tells Snake this is Ocelot, commander of the special Ocelot unit of an ultranationalist party (think like the Nazi SS but in Soviet Russia).  When he sees Snake and realizes he is American, he tries to show off how cool he is by spinning his Makarov pistol like a gunslinger would (did I mention this series doesn't always take itself seriously?) and then trying to shoot Snake.  The bullet jams in the chamber and Snake proceeds to beat up this guy with the CQC tactics he knows.  With his ego wounded, the Russian summons the soldiers under his command.  Snake basically tells Ocelot that he would suck less if he used a revolver instead of a Makarov based on how he shoots the pistol.  This is the first chapter of the awkward humble beginnings of the series main antagonist, Revolver Ocelot.

     Snake avoids Ocelot and his soldiers (which basically get reduced to cheerleaders under the crushing weight of Ocelot's massive ego), he arrives at a rope bridge.  As he begins to cross the rope bridge, he sees another figure coming from the other side with two crates.  The figure drops the crates, blocking all passage across the bridge, revealing to be no one other than The Boss (who for the record is not in a submarine in the Arctic Circle).  Suddenly a swarm of hornets come with such ferocity that they lift Sokolov off the ground to a helicopter above.  Two freakish soldiers look down at The Boss and a third is flying the helicopter with a parrot on his shoulder, she says they are her friends and that everyone has come together. A silent man in a hood with glowing red eyes transparently floating behind The Boss materalizes.  Only The Boss seems think something is up, but then this feeling goes away. We'll get to him later. A Russian with a strange mark over his face shows up.  This marked Russian is Colonel Volgin, leader of a radical communist faction looking to overthrow Khrushchev.  It is at this moment that The Boss reveals she is defecting to the Soviet Union and will fight with Colonel Volgin.

Colonel Volgin and The Boss

    Volgin cannot let the Americans stop his insurrection, so he orders that Snake be killed.  The Boss sees to it since Snake is her student.  The scene is perfectly set like something from a samurai movie, where student and teacher must fight to the death on a bridge to gain passage.  The Boss dislocates Snake's arm at the elbow, breaks some ribs, and then flings him off the bridge to the river below.  Snake only manages to grab the bandanna around her forehead.  The Boss gives Volgin the crates, which prove to be two recoilless nuclear warheads known as Davy Crocketts.

   As the helicopter flies away with The Boss, her allies(known as the Cobra unit), Volgin, Ocelot, Sokolov and a young woman claiming to be Sokolov's mistress, Snake washes up somewhere down the river.  He catches sight of The Boss in the helicopter as they fly away as well as The Shagohod which is being moved to a new facility.  Volgin then takes one of the warheads and, to the shock of Ocelot, nukes the research facility full of Russian scientists.  Snake somehow survives the resulting explosion without a refrigerator and passes out after making an effort to patch himself up.

It is at this moment that the James Bond-esque theme and intro sequence kicks in.  This is Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

La Li Lu Le Lo

   So next up we're doing the Metal Gear series, better known from the more recent titles as Metal Gear Solid.  Personally, I've felt like these games have had something different to offer than really any other franchise.  It says on the title card of pretty much every game "tactical espionage action."  The basis of the game is heavily around the concept of stealth.  Being a single person in a military base where the enemies are highly trained suggests subtlety is of utmost importance.  However, Metal Gear Solid also carries elements of the shooters that are popular today.  After all, destroying helicopters and tanks cannot be done by hiding under a cardboard box.  The versatility in style of play has made Metal Gear Solid (MGS for short) a very unique series in an industry that strives to hold to the status quo.  It also carries excellent characterization and a story that is comparable to the Count of Monte Cristo in breadth and depth.  So here we begin.

Solid Snake
   Now, for my readers who are unfamiliar with the Metal Gear franchise, it starts off rather simple, gets confusing, and then kinda sorts itself out by the end.  It's roots began as an homage to action movies of the time, but it quickly took off into conspiracy theories and science fiction.  The games follow a spy and soldier code named Solid Snake.  Snake (for short) is a clone of the perfect soldier, code named Big Boss.  In each of the first three games (Metal Gear, Metal Gear 2, and Metal Gear Solid), Snake must enter into a military compound alone, usually being run by domestic terrorists, with the help of a support team via his radio often called a codec.  These three games end with a battle with a weapon called Metal Gear, which is a term with loose meanings that basically denotes a bipedal tank that can also shoot nuclear warheads.  Following the battle with Metal Gear, Snake must then fight the leader of the terrorists who is always one of his superiors as a sort of surprise ending.  

   Metal Gear Solid was the first title that heavily focused on the sci-fi aspects of the series.  As if a bipedal, nuke launching tank wasn't enough, Metal Gear Solid introduced genetically enhanced soldiers, a psychic, a shaman, bio weapons, human augmentation (cyborgs), and Solid Snake's vengeful clone brother Liquid Snake.  

Liquid Snake (note blond hair)
   Metal Gear Solid 2:  Sons of Liberty took the series even further into the realm of uncertainty.  On top of everything that was introduced in Metal Gear Solid, the sequel introduced government conspiracy, artificial intelligence that control every aspect of society, and nano technology.  This game ended without solving any of the mysteries it addressed.  They would not be addressed until Metal Gear Solid 4:  Guns of the Patriots as the world begins to collapse with the establishment of a global economy built on war.  

  So from this long series of twists and turns that I have now described, which title shall my next series revolve around?  Well, in order for any of this to make sense (because it doesn't and that's ok), we're gonna start back at square one.  Or rather, square zero.  

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Pixels n' other Pixels

     Hello once again one and all.  It is time for me to discuss a number of things that are all sorta loosely related to this blog but not necessarily to each other.  I hope everyone has been having a good hiatus since the Majora's Mask series ended.  You may notice that the title up there has been altered to be a little more appealing to the themes discussed right down here.  My brother designed the title above so kudos to him.

     I'd like to announce that I will be writing as a columnist for a website some friends of mine will be starting soon called Culture Mass.  When that's up you can go to to check that out.  There's no link there right now because it hasn't started yet, but when it does I'll give you the means to check that out.  I will be writing a series on silent protagonists' role in video game storytelling (seems fitting because I just finished Majora's Mask).  That will go up once a week.  Feel free to check that out and the other articles which cover any number of pop culture fields.  I think it will be pretty sick, and I think you will appreciate it too.

   I will also be taking the time to devote a separate page to the Majora's Mask series.  Soon, you will be able to read each post from beginning to end without ceasing as each page links directly into the next.  In this manner you can relive all those great moments.  You like to translate Mayan chanting? There's a post for that.  You want to relive my description of the Witch King of Angmar being an eskimo? Also time for that.  Aliens? Sure, why not.  My challenge to Justin Bieber? My Brendan Fraser joke? The actual serious posts like the first three days, the comparison of Skull Kid and Link, and the one about masks?  You can read all that and much, much more.

   Now, if you're wondering what the next Pixels Project will be about.  I will give you a list of ten possible game franchises that I will do next.  There's a good chance I will end up doing many of these later, but for now only one will be the next series.  The list goes as follows:

Metroid (especially Other M)
Pokemon (1st and/or 5th generation)
Call of Duty Modern Warfare (it's more likely than you think)
Resident Evil
Metal Gear
Chrono Trigger
Final Fantasy (but only a couple of them)
Shin Megami Tensei Persona (as much as I love these, don't get your hopes up this time)

     I think that's all I need to say for now.  I will narrow down the list in the next post to a single franchise, and then in the post after that I'll narrow it down to a single title.  I'm gonna be honest and say I'm taking a different approach to this one than I did Majora's Mask, but I think it will all work out to a similar effect.

    If anything else, tell your friends about this, tell your family about this, tell your not-friends about this.  If you frequent forums and those fellow forumers may find this to be appealing, you could tell them.  If you play D&D with friends, those friends might appreciate it.  If you want to reddit it, that's up to you as well.  Really, so long as it doesn't violate the law, feel free to spread the word however you see fit or just be that hipster who wants to be the only person who knows about this blog.  That would be an incredibly bold claim, but I can't stop you from saying it.

   Until next time.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Until Next Time: Majora's Mask part 30

   I'd like to thank everyone for reading my series on Majora's Mask.  For all who don't know, it started as a statement of how much I loved the game somewhere around December 21st of last year.  Over time, the more I looked at it and the more I started playing it, the more patterns emerged from what I knew to be themes and symbols as far as storytelling and literature went.  So from there I asked, what if there is more to games than just playing them?  Sure, the game should still be a game, but why settle just there? If I have any regrets, it is that most of what I've said outside of summarizing the story is limited to my own theories and the theories of others who have approached the game in a similar manner.  I can't claim I was the first to suggest Termina was a dream or that the land is divided by the five stages of grief (though I'd like to think I was the first to put to writing the significance of the Moon Tears and the nature of the conflict between Skull Kid and Link), but now I can claim that I've written 30 pages on the matter.

   I'm going to take a break from writing hear for a little while.  If anything I'll drop a post here or there, but my hope is to give the site a new look so I can get a fresh start on the new series.  Perhaps I'll give a hint or two as to what I have in mind for the next series.  I can't say it will be more Legend of Zelda, though perhaps another time I'll take a look into it.  I will also begin writing for a website put together by a friend of mine, and I will link you to it when the time comes for it to go on the web.

   Finally, I'd like to thank Shigeru Miyamoto for creating this franchise and congratulate its success for 25 years and counting.  I thank the production team for putting this game together and the production team of Ocarina of Time since this game would not exist without the sequel that brought Zelda and her legend into the third dimension.  I thank Sailor Moon for sparing us her wrath and not dropping the lunar body upon our world that we may live to read and write another day, and I turn it over to JonTron to finish my thoughts:

Time Atlas Sextet: Majora's Mask part 29

    So now that we've come to the completion of the story, I want to go over some theories.  These will cover the entirety of the story and then specifically Link's persona in this game and the previous game (known as the Hero of Time).  It wouldn't feel right to leave it at the ending screen without considering what all this means in the grander context of the Legend of Zelda. I'll admit this one is gonna be pretty long, but it is necessary for a complete understanding which I said I would do my best to present.
Hero of Time, kid and adult. (for point of reference)

    I'm going to begin by saying to anyone who doesn't know, if there is something to be understood about the characters of the Legend of Zelda, it is that most of them are reincarnations of the same spirit again and again over time.  There have been well over ten Links and almost as many Zeldas over the course of the thousands of years this series takes place.  To further complicate this, due to the existence of time travel in this series, there are alternate timelines that branch out of this one.  Finally, though less of a complication, there have been Links in the series who had to split into four identical copies on a number of occasions throughout the series.  That's not so much of a complication because when Link returns the Four Sword (the source of these duplicates) he reunites into a single Link.  If there was some way to understand all of these incarnations of Link, think of it kinda in terms of the book and movie Cloud Atlas.  It's pretty much the exact same people showing up again and again in different walks of life with many similarities to those that came before and those who will come in the future.  The thing that is guaranteed is that there will always be a hero (except in one case but we'll get to that later on), most always be a princess, and always a dark interloper of one form or another.
Legacy of the Hero (image by Nelde)

   With all that said, the Link of Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask is known as the Hero of Time.  It is from the Hero of Time that the timeline splits three ways.  There is the timeline in which Link vanquished Ganon when Link was an adult.  In this timeline, Zelda sent Link to before this whole adventure occurred in order to let him live a life of peace.  It is in this "life of peace" that next timeline can be found.  In the timeline we are looking at, Link brings word of Ganon's coming insurrection as well as the Triforce of Courage as a sign of his warning.  Ganon is taken to be executed in this timeline (although this doesn't work to disastrous results) while Link goes into the woods, finds Termina, stops the Mask, and returns home.  There is also the final timeline in which Link is killed by Ganon in their final battle and in Link's death a war breaks out in which almost everybody he knows dies where Ganon is finally sealed in an alternate dimension but the kingdom further falls into more and more disarray.

   I mentioned that the timeline we're dealing with is the timeline of Ganon's execution.  Link is a child once more and as such he is freed from everything he was destined to do.  Conversely, everybody he befriended and met on his journey is now gone, and he now knows he cannot return to the forest where he was raised since he is not a Kokiri child but rather he is a Hylian.  There is a Chinese legend called "The Vain Ocean of Wealth and Splendor" from the collection called the Zhen Zhong Ji.  Basically, it suggests that there is a certain impermanence of all good things in life that ebbs and flows frequently.  It's very eastern in thought, but I felt it was fitting since we are dealing with a story written mostly by the Japanese. In Western culture we call this the Wheel of Fortune, where fortune and folly turn by the hands of blind fate.  How it applies is that although Link has done a heroic and virtuous deed in saving the world, it doesn't change that fate would separate him from the fruits of his victory.

   Link set out into the Lost Woods to find the companion he had throughout his journey, Navi.  It's safe to assume he'd be pretty upset about being alone where he used to have so many people around him before.  He does have his horse Epona which means he probably visited Malon (Romani and Cremia's Hylian counterpart) and Lon Lon Ranch (Romani Ranch's counterpart) before leaving (the only friend he is guaranteed to have at this point since he met her before or during the point of time he was brought back to).  While he is riding around, he is ambushed by Tatl and Tael and robbed by the Skull Kid.  This was where this game picked up.

   Something I mentioned before was that all of Skull Kid's actions during this point of time are entirely normal for Skull Kids to do.  They are generally mischievous, and they are probably all thieves who come in contact with faries because both live in the Lost Woods.  The mask that the Skull Kid is wearing could simply be a mask with no magical powers, especially since the Skull Kid is seen lifting it off his face for a moment to look for witnesses.  Nothing strange happens until Link falls down the cave.  It is at this point that the Mask is revealed to be powerful and evil, that Link discovers Termina and the coming apocalypse, and that everything I have described over the past 28 posts occurred.  It is from this sudden shift in atmosphere that a very popular theory has emerged.  This is known as the Dream Theory.

Just ask him.  He knows everything. and everyone.  Even you.
   The Dream Theory dictates without much need to explain it that everything witnessed at this point was a dream Link had while he was unconscious from falling down a cave.  The Land of Termina was built around the stages of grief because Link was grieving, and the impending doom of the moon suggested that if Link could not overcome this grief it would be his destruction.  The quest is given by the Happy Mask Salesman because happiness would be the goal to be strived for.  The plethora of masks exist because the Happy Mask Salesman told Link in the previous game as well as in this game that the giving of masks is a sign of mutual happiness that spreads around the world.  The setting of a festival was generated because we would expect one to be happy but happiness is not present.  Link also doesn't have the Master Sword in this game, the classic blade that many of the heroes have wielded, which would represent his belief that his part in the legend has been expunged from history.  The people that are doppelgangers of the Hylians are just figments from his mind repurposed to fit in his dream.  The Tutorial Owl as I shall continue to call him has been seen as a representation of the conscious mind in a number of games prior to this one, most notably in the adventure Link's Awakening.

  This brings me to the point of awakening.  Throughout the games, whenever a New Link begins his adventure (with a few exceptions) he is usually seen waking up from having overslept.  At times he wakes up in really odd places, but once he wakes up he goes from narcolepsy to insomnia.  In Majora's Mask, he doesn't go to sleep for three days straight and then he turns back those three days many times.  Link isn't usually in some "heroes only" role and is usually just any average boy.  The idea of waking up is seen as taking up the responsibility of a hero.  In this game, if Link is falling into a dream, it would be the opposite of him becoming the hero.

  In the deeds Link did to receive masks, it is his realization that he doesn't need to have a quest to be a hero.  His helping of the ranch sisters proves that people still need to be protected, his aiding of Kafei and Anju in their wedding shows Link that he has been freed to live as man like Kafei and is not chained to his heroic destiny anymore.  His gathering of all the masks shows what random acts of kindness he can do.  The transforming masks represent that a hero is still a hero even if only in memory.  Finally, in giving the masks away to the Moon Children there comes the acceptance of giving up the deeds he did to bring peace to the lives of the many he touched.  In doing this, he is given the means to defeat the desperation of Majora's Mask and the moon.  However, once he is on the ground again, he has possession of all the masks once more.  This proves that his deeds will always be with him even if only with him.

   The Happy Mask Salesman's parting remarks dictate that Link isn't bound by fate to never see the people he met last time again.  He is told that it rests within his hands to return to the people he met and that the lack of a quest cannot separate him from them.  As Link is seen riding away in in the Lost Woods again, he looks to be sad again.  Probably because he figured this whole thing was a dream and, like all good dreams, they suck when they end.

   The one thing that suggests this wasn't all a dream was the image carved on the tree stump at the end.  Link doesn't see this, but we do.  Even if the entire game was allegorical as most heroes' quests are, it does suggest that not only did Link get clarity, but he did in fact save all of those people.

Hero of Winds, Because cat eyes are cool.
   What happens to the Legend of the Hero after this?  In the timeline where Link defeated Ganon, Ganon came back many years later and since Link wasn't there to stop him, the goddesses sent a great flood to destroy Hyrule while the Hylians were sent to live atop mountains for safety.  Ganon survived and this sets up the story for the most jolly Link ever in Legend of Zelda Wind Waker.  Wind Waker is probably one of my favorite Zeldas beyond Majora's Mask because in sharp contrast to Majora's Mask it is so lighthearted.  It is also one of the more divisive due to the unorthodox art style of cel shading (giving us the famous cat/toon Link).  It has its ups and downs as any good story will have but everything ends so much better for the new Link (known as the Hero of Wind).  In terms of Doctor Who, the Hero of Wind is the incredibly jovial and energetic Matt Smith to follow the tragic demise of David Tennant's Doctor who (see what I did there) is in many ways like the Hero of Time.

Hero of Legend
(w/ Rod of Seasons)
   In the failed Hero of Time timeline, the next Hero rises out of the knights of Hyrule and shows up in Link to the Past.  He is a descendant of the knights who fought Ganon after the Hero of Time was killed.  If I were to compare this Hero to a Doctor (though I really shouldn't because the two are completely different things, but Doctor Who is really popular right now so it makes for an easy point of comparison) it would be to Tom Baker's portrayal of the Fourth Doctor.  This hero (whom I call the Hero of Legend) appears in more games to date than any other Link and has moments of being jolly but can also be really serious.  He is more distant and has a pretty hard life given that many of those around him are killed and it's usually for his sake.  At one point, he is even responsible for an entire island of people made from a magical creature's dreams getting wiped out by waking the creature.  Its hard to say if he ever settles down  to stop questing but from his lineage comes the hero of the first two games in the series known as the Hero of Courage.

  What happens to the Hero of Time though?  Not a whole lot is said in the following games.  I have a theory that I think holds some ground, but it is only a theory.  I assume that Link eventually goes to live on Lon Lon Ranch with Malon and her father Talon (who's counterpart from Termina is dead according to Cremia).  Link knew that in seven years, a farm hand (who was portrayed as the bandits in Termina that attacked Cremia's wagon) would seize the Ranch from the lazy Talon, hold Malon captive, and become a very cruel owner of the ranch.  Although the Hyrule of that time was more savage, Link's presence on the ranch would ensure nothing like that would happen.  Link would probably get with Malon and that is why somewhere down the road on the timeline the Link of the series Twilight Princess would be a rancher who would come into possession of the horse named Epona like the Hero of Time did.  Shigeru Miyamoto, creator of the series, has stated that two Links do not necessarily come from the same bloodline (as shown in the Link from Wind Waker who had no hero to be in the lineage of and the Link from Link to the Past who's lineage was from a knight).  However, I find this to be a better ending than Link simply riding off to never be heard from again.

New Link (left) vs Hero of Time (right, he's seen better days)
   The only thing we do know about the Hero of Time is that he does come back as a spirit in Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess.  This spirit instructs the new Link (who I call the Hero of Light) in the ways of swordsmanship.  The Hero of Time's final lament was that he had no one to carry on his legacy.  He fulfills this by teaching the new Link.  After teaching the new Link all of his sword techniques, the Hero of Time fades back into legend with the many heroes that came before.

This ends my telling of Majora's Mask and the life of the Hero of Time.  The series isn't completely over yet. I've got one more thing I'd like to say, but since this post is so long I'll wait until the next post to say it.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

One Day More: Majora's Mask part 28

   Link wakes up on the ground outside of Clock Town restored to his original form.  Tatl and Tael are flying overhead and Link looks over to see the freed Skull Kid talking with the Four Giants.  It turns out the beginning of this whole mess was when Skull Kid thought the giants had abandoned him.  They had gone to each of their realms to protect and maintain order over Termina, but Skull Kid imagined they had forgotten their friendship.  As the Giants make clear Skull Kid is forgiven, they walk back to each of their lands and fade away.

   Skull Kid comes to understand the value of friendship and wishes to befriend Link since he put him through so much trouble.  Skull Kid then realizes that Link is very similar to the boy who taught him a song in the woods a while ago (that's because they're the same boy who taught the song).  Then out of nowhere, the Happy Mask Salesman appears holding Majora's Mask in his hands.  He says the evil power has now left the mask for good.  For a while I thought he was distraught about this, as though he wanted the power.  However, with further consideration, it suggests he will not have to guard the mask anymore.  It doesn't change the fact he's still creepy, but it makes it less unsettling that he gets the mask in the end.  The Mask Salesman tells Link that all the masks he has given away have been returned to his possession.  He also notes that Link's victory is in all the happiness he spread in getting those masks.  The Happy Mask Salesman ends by saying just because two friends part company doesn't mean they will never be able to meet again.  He says the power of friends to reunite rests entirely in those friends and that no distance can separate two people for long.  With these remarks, the Salesman begins to walk away before disappearing into thin air.  We may never know who he really is, some think he was one of the Ancient Ones who created the mask seeking to protect it from the weak.  With the end of the legend of Majora's Mask, he too fades into memory.

    Tatl, apparently not good with goodbyes, tells Link there partnership has ended as both have come to terms.  She then reminds Link rather callously that he has business to deal with in his world and that she, her brother, and the Skull Kid have a festival to celebrate.  As Link hops on his horse and rides off, Tatl quietly thanks Link for everything he did.  Tatl and Tael seemingly embrace (hard to say, they're both represented as balls of light with wings) and then the camera shows what happens through the rest of the day.

   The Indigo-gos and a host of others perform in Clock Town, gathering a large crowd.  The King of the Dekus makes peace with the monkey he had tried to kill.  The spirits of the dead in Ikana are laid to rest, and the man who Link helped escape the curse of the mummy goes outside with his daughter to greet the new day.  Cremia watches as Romani demonstrates her skills with a bow.  In a gathering of all the people of the town as well as the ranch owning sisters, the wedding of Anju and Kafei takes place formally at the gates of the city.  Sadly, those souls that aided Link were not brought back to life, as seen in Mikau's vacant spot on the stage with his band and the Deku Steward crying over the dead tree Link saw at the beginning of his journey.  Finally, Link is shown riding through the Lost Woods of Hyrule once again on Epona.  He rides with a downcast look, but at least he rides towards a patch of light filtering down from the trees.  As he moves away from the scene, a wood carving on a tree trunk shows Link, Skull Kid, Tatl and Tael, and the Four Giants as Saria's Song is heard one last time.

   And here ends the legend of Majora's Mask and the Hero of Time.

Cruel Angel Thesis: Majora's Mask part 27

      As the mask floats towards Link, he swings his new sword.  It turns out the sword can throw bolts of energy.  These ki blasts if you will prove the fight is going to be very one sided when they drop the mask to the floor and allow Link to just wreck it.  Majora's Mask summons other masks from off the walls to attack Link, and Link quickly takes them down with a single swipe each.  It would almost be anticlimactic if you didn't take into consideration this mask is more evil than Majora's Mask.  This fight can be done without the Fierce Deity Mask, but I feel like it is more fitting this way.

    There have been a lot of theories as to what is the Fierce Deity and how it could be contained in a mask.  Some would say the fierce deity is the empty space between the three triangles of the triforce.  This tetraforce theory suggests that before the three goddesses of Hyrule brought order and life to the world, there was a malevolence in the chaos.  The three goddesses proved infinitely more powerful than this darkness and controlled its power, possibly by capturing it in a mask.  Whereas the goddesses have power in the prime universe (a.k.a. Hyrule), the Fierce Deity holds the power over the satellite universes where the triforce doesn't exist.  Another theory that I think holds more validity was that the Fierce Deity was the god worshiped by the creators of Majora's Mask.  This would render the Fierce Deity as a much greater power than Majora's Mask as Majora's Mask would only be the fullest extent of the worshipers' power as opposed to the limitless power of the worshiped.  The theory ends by saying that when this tribe of ancient ones was stopped by the goddesses, they again put the Fierce Deity's power in the mask.  How Majora's Mask came upon this one is sort of a mystery.

    After batting Majora's Mask around a bit, it floats upright, sprouts arms, legs, and a single eye out of the top and takes on its next form.  "Majora's Incarnation" as it is called is the closest thing to what the original Majora looked like if ever such a person existed.  The Incarnation simply runs around and dances.  He does stuff like the moonwalk and might even break out some Travolta in the middle of this fight.  It has a remarkably high pitched voice.  This has led many people to assume the spirit that is in the mask is a woman.  A female antagonist isn't out of the question in the Zelda series. The villain in Oracle of Ages was a woman.  It could happen.  However, I think these claims are made to give some humanity to that which isn't understood.  If anything, I think Majora is just drawing on the fact it was reawakened by a child, hence the playful demeanor and the high voice.  The music in this fight could easily be something Danny Elfman would right for an Eddie Murphy kids movie.  It is very off putting when compared to the usual music of danger used in other fights.  It takes even less time to defeat this form.  Despite the fact Majora's Incarnation is very fast, it is very difficult to dodge energy blasts coming out of a massive sword.  

3 forms of Majora. (art by Onimadness)
   After a few hits, the mask takes on its final form.  Its muscles pump up, the eye transforms into a demonic head, and two long whips grow out of its arms.  This is Majora's Wrath.  If there is a form that can stop Fierce Deity Link, it is this one.  Majora's Wrath is still pretty fast but can also his Link from afar with his whips.  When people talk about the fight with Majora, they usually think of this form.   Majora's Wrath is hardly pleasant to look at even if you ignore the demon face, it doesn't have skin so all of its muscles and veins can be seen openly.  It can jump around the room, bringing its whips with it.  If I remember anything about this fight from my childhood, it was that other kids had a horrible tendency to overexaggerate this phase of the battle.  They said stuff like Link had to climb up Majora's Wrath a la Shadow of the Colossus and things like that.  This would be true in Oracle of Season in which Link has to climb up the Dragon Onox's arms, and this was even planned to be used in the final battle with Ganon in Ocarina of Time, but for as horrifying and dangerous as Majora's Wrath seems, Link never has to climb up him.  This part of the fight takes longer than the first two, and despite the Wrath's efforts to defeat Link.  It still proves to be no match.  Rather than turning into a writhing mess of tentacles or burning up or exploding, Majora's Mask just looks up, screams, and fades to dust just like (SPOILERS, I guess?) Voldemort.  It's almost like a nightmare fading from someone's mind.

Ganon's got nothing on this.
    Why was this fight so easy (with all respect to those who didn't use the mask because it was very difficult to them)?  Well, personally, I have to believe Majora's Mask gave Link the Fierce Deity mask under the assumption that he would fall under its dark power like the Skull Kid did.  Link does appear to be a child although after the events of Ocarina of Time he is pretty much a child in name only.  Perhaps Majora's Mask was trying to summon a greater evil into the world.  He knew that he still couldn't bring the moon down on Termina alone but two evils could.  Since Majora's Mask was originally used for hexing rituals, it is possible this was a final service to its creators in order to try and summon their god into the world.  Regardless, I mentioned from the beginning that Link's greatest strength was the power to let power go.  This is something no villain in the series could ever boast.  Link started this adventure without most of his equipment and without the power of magic.  He proved his strength to the children of the moon by giving them all the masks he acquired.  To them (wearing the masks of the evil monsters Link fought) the masks were a sign of power. Some of the masks were quite powerful.  However, the Happy Mask Salesman told Link long ago that to give masks is to share happiness.  Link didn't get any of the masks without doing a service to the giver.  The reception of the masks was the reciprocation of Link's good deeds, culminating in the ultimate good done through the union of the Couple's Mask.  To give away the masks was to give away the power in them.  This is how Link managed to remove the Fierce Deity Mask in the end and save the world from himself.  

   With the destruction of the spirit of Majora's Mask comes the destruction of the moon.  A rainbow remains in the sky from where it was as Link returns to Termina below.  The sun is high over a new day in Termina.  Majora's Mask has been reclaimed.  The quest is over.  

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Moonscape: Majora's Mask part 26

   This tree on a hill against the light blue sky? This is the inside of the moon.  What did you expect?  Probably screaming skulls, lava pits, flying demons, some psychedelic maze of death, spiders, human sacrifice, or absolute void, something at least more akin to Ikana Canyon, but no, it's just a field with a tree.  The field looks like it goes on forever, and there is a surrounding mist that gives it a sort of dream world look.  Turning around, you see no sign of being in the moon.  It's not like the inside of his mouth is behind Link, it's just a completely pristine field.  There's even a sun shining in the sky.  Don't let your guard down.  Just because the field is quite unsuspecting in appearance doesn't mean things aren't about to get messy.  I actually really like this scene. In another horror game, FEAR 2, a very similar dream world is frequently visited in which a single tree with a rope swing sits in the middle of a field.  The series' main antagonist, Alma (who looks a lot like the girl from The Ring if you are wondering) is seen sitting on this rope swing and as the game goes on the field around the tree gets more and more chaotic until the totally bizarre final battle.  We're not going to go to much into that, but I feel like its things like that which justify playing FEAR 2.
kinda blurry (which is intentional)
but it gives a sense that there's
something wrong with the
tree on a hill

   So what does Majora's field with a tree have on Alma's field with a tree.  Well, Majora's tree with a field is surrounded by five children.  Four of the kids are running around the tree playing and the fifth is sitting under the tree all alone.  All four kids are wearing masks and judging by the backs of their heads, they resemble a childish form of the happy mask salesman.  They are all dressed in almost tribal garb.  The four masks on the running children resemble the four monsters that had held the curse on the areas around Termina.  The fifth child in the center is wearing Majora's Mask.  

   These children say some really odd things.  One asks Link if he will become a mask salesman like the will, and another asks Link what real face lies beneath his face.  If Bill Cosby taught me anything, it's that kids say the darndest things.  However, I don't think he meant stuff like "what face is under your face" when the five children are perfectly identical and wearing the masks of beings that had been trying to kill you over the past few days. The four of them around the tree ask Link to play hide and seek with them.  To initiate this, Link must give a few of the masks he has acquired from everyone he's helped.  The children teleport Link to odd places that test his skills that he has gathered on the adventure.  Three of these puzzles utilize the deku, goron, and zora masks while the fourth check all of Link's skills in archery and demolitions while facing against various monsters he has already killed.  Upon completion of each of these challenges, Link is required to give more masks.  With the last of these puzzles completed, Link has no more masks to give.  

   I will go into who I think these children are later, but now I suppose it's fitting we check out the big man himself.  
By big man, I mean this shy kid.

  This kid wants to play with Link but realizes Link has no more masks.  He also decides hide and seek won't be fun, so he decides to play a new game.  He calls this new game Good Guys against Bad Guys.  For Link's role in this, he hands Link the final mask.  This mask is called the Fierce Deity Mask.  Upon seeing the mask, the comment is made that the power of this mask is far greater than that of Majora's Mask but so is the evil.  The child with Majora's Mask stands up and tells Link that he gets to be the bad guy.  He then adds to this "When you're the bad guy, all you do is run."

   He teleports Link to a room full of dark symbols and strange colors.  Link puts on the Fierce Deity Mask, causing him to transform into an armored warrior with white eyes, white hair, strange face paint and a double helix sword.  Walking toward the center of the room, the masks of the boss monsters Link killed float and attach themselves to the walls.  Looking to the far side of the room, Majora's Mask unhinges itself from the wall, sprouts tentacles, and prepares to attack. 

Majora's Mask Unmasked: Majora's Mask part 25

    Link ascends the Clock Tower quite like he did when he was the tree child.  This time things are different. Link has moved heaven and earth to prepare for this showdown.  He has three spirits to aid him, and an assortment of masks gathered from everyone he helped along the way, not to mention a much better repertoire for the Ocarina of Time than when he last saw the Skull Kid.  Skull Kid and Tael say all the same things they did last time.  When Skull Kid starts calling the Moon down, the sun begins to rise over the horizon.  It's a new day for an ending world.  Link can turn back time like last time, but instead he plays the Oath of Order.

      The song is so fitting for the moment where everything is falling apart.  The speed at which the moon is coming in is shaking the ground apart and the draft of wind is tearing leaves from the trees and throwing debris.  Then upon playing this song, the four giants materialize out of the lands they guard.  They walk with even steps toward the moon and then reach up all at once to catch it before it crashes down on Clock Town.  After some struggle to keep it from falling, the moon ceases.  The sun has risen.  It's a new day.  

      Though a new day has come, the darkness has not yet passed.  Before victory can be claimed, the Skull Kid screams in pain before going limp.  Then the eyes on the mask begin to glow, and Majora's Mask begins to speak on its own.  It casts aside the Skull Kid for his failure, and begins to hover around on its own.  Majora's Mask has life of its own.  Though there are other dark artifacts like Majora's Mask including the remarkably similar in appearance Fused Shadows from Twilight Princess, this is the first one to display sentience.  Without a motive, care, or emotion, the mask travels up into the moon.  The moons eyes burn brighter as the mask says it wishes only to "consume everything."  The moon begins to bear down even harder and the giants struggle to hold it up.  

     While this is going on, Tatl expresses that she wishes to punish the Skull Kid for performing the crimes against the world and its inhabitants.  She is stopped by Tael who tells her the Mask is the real evil that must be dealt with.  Given no other option, Link must travel up into the moon by way of a strong gust leading into it.  If he cannot stop the moon, everything he has done would be for nothing.  Tatl tags along as this team prepares for whatever hell awaits them inside the belly of the beast.  For all who don't know what's coming next, this is probably the moment that digs at people the most.  I can guarantee confusion, shock, and absolute terror.  Tread lightly as we go into the depths of hell itself.  

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Vacant Wedding: Majora's Mask part 24

    Link meets with Kafei behind a rock on the final day in the canyon.  How Kafei managed to climb over the protective wall, the cliff, and avoid all the monsters is entirely beyond me, but here he proves that he can be kinda heroic too.  If I were to make a comparison, I'd say Kafei is sort of like the Rory Williams of this world.  The more you think about what he's doing, the more awesome he comes across.  The fact he got here without a horse or a sword makes him pretty cool.

   So Sakon prances up to the door of his hideout, does some open sesame stuff on the side of a canyon, and Kafei and Link run in before the door closes.  Kafei sees his mask sitting in a nice display case at the front of the hideout and runs straight for it, triggering a pressure plate.  I guess love really is blindness.  The mask starts moving out of the case down a conveyor belt to a shoot in the far side of the hideout.  I believe Tatl sasses Kafei for his mistake (misery loves company. friend).  At this point, the player is given control of Kafei's actions.  Kafei runs into the next room which is full of pressure plates, some which speed up the conveyor belt, others which return it to normal speed, and others still that open door.  As Kafei opens doors, Link runs into the next room and slays all the monsters within.  They continue this pattern as the rooms get more and more complex, but finally Link and Kafei make it to the mask just in time.  Kafei reveals that he promised Anju he would get to the inn so they could have their wedding.  He wants Link to witness it.  Link uses the Ocarina of Time to get there quickly since it can travel through both time and space.

Something Old, Something New
Something Borrowed, Something Blue

     As Link arrives in Clock Town, it is a familiar site from the first time he visited.  The streets are empty, the clock tower is ringing ominously, and the moon stares the city down.  Link enters the vacant inn to find Anju sitting alone in a room with her mask.  After about an hour and a half, Kafei shows up.  Although she doesn't recognize him at first, she quickly picks up on who he is.  They embrace and exchange masks, forming the Couple's Mask.  Giving this mask to Link, they tell him to escape and find shelter.
Kinda bittersweet if you ask me.

    As far as Link's actions go in this game, I feel like this one is the most meaningful.  Link slays monsters and lifts curses, fights aliens and bandits, proves his prowess on a horse and with a bow, and amid all of this reunites a couple.  I feel like this makes all the trouble worth it in the end.  What is done here differs from any action of any previous incarnation of Link.  Rather than helping a princess, Link helped an innkeeper.  Rather than slay a monster, Link delivered letters.  Rather than punish the thief, Link aided the ruined.  I mentioned that Majora's Mask flew in the face of the traditional legend.  If Link can't save the world for everyone, he at least saved the world for a couple  whom many doubted and everyone had forsaken.  This makes him a different sort of hero than any knight in shining armor.

   With only a couple hours left, Link would play the Song of Time, but instead he goes to the Clock Tower. Skull Kid has waited long enough.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Courtship, Curiosity Shop, and the Third Wheel: Majora's Mask part 23

     With no way out, Link is not getting out and the purple haired person's hideout has been revealed.  However, fox face (Hunger Games reference? in my Pixels? it's more likely than you think.) recognizes Link from the description of green clothes in Anju's letter.  Satisfied with Link's silent promise to keep a secret, the person removes the Keaton Mask to reveal he is in fact Kafei.  Tatl (that's the fairy in case you forgot, she's been here the whole time) says that the Kafei they are looking for is an adult.  Kafei mentions that a masked imp (probably Rorschach from Watchmen) transformed him into a child.

oh... close but no cigar I guess.  
  He goes on to say that his sudden transformation is not the reason he is hiding but rather something important was stolen from him.  The mask that he must unite with Anju's was stolen (read part 17 for further details) by a bald smiling man.  This character, who I have not discussed yet, is named Sakon.  He's an all around trouble maker. He robs an old lady on the night of the first day, tries to steal Link's sword in Ikana Canyon, and has a most unpleasant little canter.  Kafei is having a stakeout and cannot leave since he is waiting for Sakon to come to the Curiosity Shop.  It also just so happens that Kafei has the Keaton mask to wear in the absence of his Sun Mask.

btw, this is what he looks like.
  Apparently this is a world where everybody has a ton of masks lying around.  This is like going over to meet your significant other's parents, and upon entering the house everybody is wearing masks.  It would be alright if they were celebrating Mardi Gras, but instead they're doing whatever normal families do when you go over to visit the parent's of your significant other but with masks (I can't exactly put my finger on what one does in these situations, has dinner? talks about aspirations and interests? watches the game that isn't a video game? please leave a comment if you can enlighten me on this matter. I'm rambling from all the coffee I drank, but a comment would still be appreciated.)

  In his effort to comfort Anju in his absence, Kafei tasks Link with bringing her a pendant that only the real Kafei would own.  This effectively promotes Link to the role of intermediary and third wheel.  I sorta think this is ridiculous because Link can kill monsters, climb mountains, follow suspicious characters, avoid detection, and solve intense physics puzzles and yet he gets stuck with making the deliveries.  He's going to be the one to try and avert the apocalypse and yet he's just being the mailman working overtime.  Is it because Kafei is an adult in child form because technically Link could boast the same thing.  Whatever, Link gets the Keaton Mask for doing this because when he comes back Kafei has gone in pursuit of Sakon to Ikana Canyon.

    edited note:  I mentioned this guy is pretty cool in a previous post, and he's not a horrible person.  I just get a little belligerent after one too many cups of coffee.  We'll pick up with him redeeming himself in a treasure cave.

The Mask of the Fox: Majora's Mask part 22

    Remember during the finale to the ranch posts how I mentioned there was that groom who didn't show up when his fiancee was waiting with Cremia and Romani at the ranch?  Well, we're gonna talk about him now. This is the story of the only person who could be Link's equal in bravery and cunning.  Some would even suggest he is Link's doppelganger since Link is from Hyrule and this guy is from Termina.  I wouldn't go so far as to say that, but the similarities are quite apparent.  This is the story of Kafei (also it's probably gonna be another three parter like the ranch one was)

   When Link first entered Clock Town, it is very difficult to miss this guy.  He's a fellow with purple hair and a yellowish-golden fox mask (known in the Legend of Zelda as a Keaton mask, which comes from the Japanese word kitsune).  He walks down to a mailbox, puts in a letter, and then runs to a door in the wall by the laundry pool.  Despite sticking out like a sore thumb, no one else sees him.
Keaton Mask
(He's batman)

   After some poking around, Link may notice that the mayor of Clock Town has purple hair like the fellow in the Keaton Mask.  I'm no geneticist, but I think that would be a good starting point.  He says nothing about it,  however his wife mistakes Link for a private investigator (You think that sounds weird? Don't you know that in Japanese fiction all private investigators are children or got their start as children?).  She tells Link that her son, Kafei, went missing about a month ago.  Kafei is apparently a very famous man, but since Link was carried to Termina across the far reaching expanse of the multiverse, he has no clue who he is.  To aid Link in his investigation (since asking questions is difficult when the detective is mute) she gives him a mask in the likeness of Kafei (which is to say long purple hair). Nobody really knows where Kafei is, but the mailman acts all suspicious about it.  Following him after he picks up a letter from the mailbox the Keaton Mask wearing guy visited, he delivers the letter to Anju at the inn.  She's shocked that she received the letter and knows that it could only come from Kafei.  By wearing the mask in front of her, she invites Link to talk in the kitchen late at night about getting this letter.  She asks Link to deliver a letter in reply to the one received.

Actual Keaton Mask (looks like a Pikachu)
   After another round of mail delivery, the post man takes the letter to the laundry pools (Where the only purple haired individual in the entire town lives. This would not be so obvious if this wasn't the billionth time we reset time. If Link could talk, this would be a lot easier too.) After rising out of the laundry pool water like Martin Sheen in Apocalypse Now and running through the door the purple haired fellow came out of, Link finds himself in the back of the Old Curiosity Shop.  After waiting here a while, the purple haired fellow with the Keaton Mask charges in, cornering Link.
Next Post.

Actual Keaton
(scratch that Pikachu, it's a Ninetails sans six tails)

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Stone Temple Pilots: Majora's Mask part 21

    Link goes to the stone temple and solves the puzzle of the floating cubes.  This puzzle relies heavily on using the song Elegy of Emptiness.  By performing this song, Ben (yeah we're just gonna keep calling it that and hope no one gets possessed), appears over a pressure plate.  This pressure plate moves a floating block around.  As different plates are pressed with different weight, the blocks rearrange in different positions.  In order to accomplish this, Link has to perform the Elegy of Emptiness using the goron, zora, and deku masks he has acquired thus far as well as when using Ben.  When playing the song in each of these forms, the statue that forms is not of Link but of the three souls that inhabit each mask, Darmani, Mikau, and the deku steward's son.  It suggests with all the souls Link has helped thus far, he has not been alone on this quest.  That said, I feel like the meaning behind the song Elegy of Emptiness is, well, empty.  There's all sorts of creepy things in the canyon including Ben, but something about the actual application of this song is a little disappointing.  This disappointment will continue through the rest of this section.  I am sorry for this but prepare for probably the dullest post of this series.
It's like that Roald Dahl story about the serial killer who was a taxidermist.  

   Link enters the temple, does some puzzles that involve standing on the ceiling and stuff, fights some worms, does so with a mask that makes him big enough to fight the worms, frees the giant and calls it a day.

   Yeah, there's really nothing to say here.  The whole surrounding area is death themed, but once you go in the temple, that all ends.  Link runs into the master of the Garo ninjas somewhere in there, fights him a bit, and then the guy blasts himself to pieces with a bomb so as to probably not fall under the curse of the land.  Link gets some holy arrows or something.

   Personally, I feel like this is the weakest part of the game's overall themes and story.  Sure, that whole bit with the puzzles was cool using the Elegy of Emptiness and the flipping of the temple upside down, but beyond that it is sort out of place when considering how interesting the surroundings are.  There is an entire canyon full of the undead and tormented souls, and this temple revolves around earth, wind, and fire (the elements, not the band).  Sure worms are the boss and there's that whole bit in Hamlet about dietary worms and Polonius and stuff (sorry if I left someone in the dust there with the Shakespeare, but spoilers:  Hamlet kills Polonius and then jokes about him being at dinner with worms).  This temple feels like it should've been in Ocarina of Time, and they didn't have enough done so they put it in Majora's Mask.

  The great thing is despite this temple's shortcomings, the game is less built around dungeons than more traditional Zelda titles.  Since the player is timed in completing each dungeon, these dungeons have to be short and there is a lot more additional content outside of the dungeons.  I feel like there is enough that go on outside of each of these temples that it gives me something more to talk about than the actual dungeons do.  With that said, Link saved the giant. He's got all four giants woot woot, wakka wakka.  With the giants back, the curses across the four lands have been lifted.  The sorrows of the people of Termina can now be lifted.  So now Link can prepare for the final showdown, but before that, I want to talk about a few other things before the ending.  I promise those things will be more interesting than this post.

Here, for your trouble, a picture of RDJ and Conan being awesome.