Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Biweekly Music Wednesday! No. 22 ~Clock Tower~ (The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask)

Origin: The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask (N64)
Plays In: Inside the Clock Tower of Clock Town
Status: Arrangement of the "Song of Healing" motif.
Composer: Koji Kondo

Here's something of a shameful secret: up until recently, I hadn't played Majora's Mask in well over a decade.

This isn't entirely true -- I've played bits and pieces of it now and then, be it an attempt to recapture nostalgia via a new file or watching a friend play the Virtual Console version, but a replay never came to be. It's a huge shame on my part; aside from maybe aimlessly wandering the tropical fields of Link's Awakening, it was the very first Zelda game I truly got. The mystifying dreary atmosphere was nothing less than captivating, as everything from the otherworldly vibrancy of the Astral Observatory to the bitter romantic tragedy of Anju and Kafei--of which, unfortunately, I was never able to solve--presented such contrasts of enticing, adventurous mystery and forlorn heartbreak. It was an allure never found anywhere else on the N64, but I never came to properly revisit it as I did with Ocarina of Time, The Wind Waker, and Twilight Princess.

As of last fall, I've made it a point to rediscover the series following the Wii U game's announcement, and I made it a point to finally revisit Majora's Mask on New Year's Day.

To gush of my nearly two-month long captivation would be a mass understatement. Having forgotten roughly half of the game's events, getting reacquainted with the melancholic world of Termina has firmly established Majora's Mask as one of my new Nintendo favorites. It's a journey as enthralling as it is poignant, and I'm finding myself a fan of every one of its offbeat design choices (barring perhaps the temporary saves of the Owl Statues). The three-day cycle is nothing sort of genius, poring through every facet of the game to such levels of intrigue and perplexity that it grants Majora's Mask not just a thrilling pressure, but emotional and symbolic heft. It is truly among the most satisfyingly unique titles of Nintendo's library.

So much of the game's essence can be boiled down to the recurring Song of Healing theme--or in the version we're looking at today, the Clock Tower. It's actually the first rendition that we hear, after Link is cursed into the form of a powerless Deku Scrub and is greeted by the enigmatic Happy Mask Salesman. Its haunting choir serves as a chilling prelude to the game's events; true to its name, the Song of Healing can relieve one of their suffering (as seen when Link is restored to normal), but not every one of its recipients has a happy ending. Can we then perhaps think of Clock Tower as a sort of elegy? The song's association with the heart symbol is another enticing symbol, and I can't help but feel the shape of Majora's Mask is the key.

Despite being on the clock, I still revisit the depths of the Clock Tower. The continuous churning roar of the waterwheel is just as ominous as the ambiguous mask fanatic resting beneath the unnaturally composed populace of Clock Town. The likes of Darmani and Mikau and the poor petrified Deku linger in my memory, and I continue recall the chilling, gradual realization I had as a kid that Link had to lie to the Goron and Zora populations by masquerading at their respective heroes. My heart bursts, but I have to soldier on and keep doing what I can. Just like the real world.

Final Thoughts: Oh yeah, so I played a demo of the new 3D version at Gamestop the other day. The handheld camera and perspective really gave it a new sense of scale.

1 comment:

  1. Here's an even more shameful secret: I have only ever played one Zelda game, Minish Cap, and not in about seven years or so (though I still retain the gold Zelda GBA SP). However, I have sworn to getting Wind Waker with the Wii U when I buy it.

    But I will say that what I know of the series had let me to be more captivated to play some entries then others, and apart from the cel-shaded entries, this is one of them. And the music seals it for me even more - I'm gonna go out and get this for 3DS as soon as I can!

    Not related to this post at all, but yeah, we Europeans have always gotten the short stick when it comes to Kirby, probably because his games rarely shift much at all over here (if the shady VgChartz is to be believed, only the original Dream Land had sold over 200K in Europe). Even if we have been subject to Angry Kirby three times less then America, there's all sorts of others negative aspects - many of his older games took 6 months or more to cross the pond, which is unfortunately being repeated with Rainbow Curse; the Kirby anime didn't even air over here to my knowledge; and Tilt N Tumble and Dream Land 3, alongside the Dream Collection were never released, all presumably due to being at the end of their respective system's lifespans (I got Tilt N Tumble anyway, and I can play Dream Land 3 now anyway, so I've worked around it). Kirby just doesn't translate over here much - a lot of my friends don't even know who I'm referring to when I mention Kirby! So yeah, not a series that generates much public knowledge round these parts, bar the characters' appearance in the Smash Bros games.