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October 19, 2011 / jwaxo

The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask (Completionism)

Brrrrrrrrr.

Alright, so last post there was a brief mention of how much I wanted Majora’s Mask really, really badly one Christmas. If you didn’t see at least a short article about sequel to Ocarina of Time, a game that I (and thousands of others) have quoted as the best game of all time, you’re blind.

But see, this also ties in with my post last week about continually playing games, over and over, in an attempt to unlock something that’s essentially impossible. If Ocarina of Time was one of my favorite games ever, one that got drilled into my head, was eternally sought throughout for new secrets and glitches and one extra scrap of story, well, you can easily realize why I wanted Majora’s Mask so badly: it was that wish being fulfilled.

So I saved my money, and I played snatches of it at Best Friend’s house, and I continued playing Ocarina of Time. Over. And over. The game didn’t have cheats, and I for some reason hadn’t gained an addiction to game guides like I had with cheat codes, so there was a lot in Ocarina that I didn’t manage to finish until years later. But I sought out hidden caves and interactions and something that I hadn’t experienced before, while saving up the money for the sequel that seemed, to all measures I had, worthy. Finally, with a slight boost from my birthday money, I had enough. I bugged and pestered my mom until she drove me all the way to the closest place I figured would have it. I purchased the game, and the N64 Expansion Pack necessary to play it (and there’s definitely going to be an annoyed post about that, let me tell you), went home, plugged it in–

–and spiked the final boss absolutely into the ground.

Yeah, that’s how you do it.

I pounded through that game. Every chance I got. Every weekend. All of the puzzles. All of the sidequests. I can safely say that it was the first game I ever managed to beat, 100% completed, without use of a guide. I positively munched that game down.

Why did I pick Majora’s Mask to talk about this specific addiction, this need to completely empty a game of all contents? I mean, it’s not really the first time that I’ve explored every angle of a game, playing it over and over again. There are really two reasons for it:

1) The sheer number of sidequests and storywise-unimportant quests for you to complete. It’s been constantly said before: Ocarina of Time is about an epic story; Majora’s Mask is about atmosphere. And atmosphere is built through the number of side characters, their interactions with the environment, and the generally dreary world that Link adventures through. Plus, 100% completing the game is actually necessary to get a mask that seriously makes the final boss fight awesome. And there are twenty-four other masks to collect and use around the world to different effects, along with heart pieces, skulltalas, hidden fairies, secret conversations… all which flesh out the world, and give you additional goals.

2) The Bomber’s Notebook, an in-game item that kept track of the schedules of characters you meet, if you’ve helped them before, what they do through the three-day sequence that the game loops through (it’s a long story).

So there’s a malevolent moon, and this possessed mask, and sentient bushes, and a carnival…

This was really the key: it was the first in-game way I’d seen that kept track of exactly how much you’ve completed, a constant reminder that you still had more to do. I munched through that book, constantly checking it for reminders of who was going to be where and when I needed to help them to trigger different actions somewhere else.

After finishing Majora’s Mask, tearing up a little at the perfect and sad ending, I went back to Ocarina of Time reinvigorated. I printed out a sheet of every item I was missing in it, then went through and found them. All of them. I unlocked all of the cheats in Goldeneye, went back and found all of the blastola colas in Captain Comic II, did my best to return all of the pages in Myst without getting the bad ending. I realized there was a calming, finalizing loveliness to completing, utterly and one-hundred-percent, a game.

And then I grew up and realized that it applied to so much more. The joy of completing a recipe perfectly, getting all of the ingredients in there and checking off a list one at a time, using your (finally) fully-stocked spice cabinet. Checking all of the support issues that you need to fix for your clients. Cleaning the entire house, mowing the entire lawn. There’s a satisfaction and rightness to it that I discovered there.

And there’s either something mature to that or just obsessive-compulsive.

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