The theme for this week at TAY is to write about your favorite video game’s musical score. This question posed an immediate challenge, because I had to designate a favorite video game. I love my favorites equally, damn it! I thought about how much I loved the Witcher 3 (and it’s wonderful soundtrack), and how much fun I’ve had with the Halo and Fallout franchises. Nostalgia is a funny thing, though. Our past has a way of sticking with us in understated, yet profound, ways. For me, childhood video-gaming was defined by Zelda on the N64. More specifically, Majora’s Mask.
And what an excellent soundtrack to discuss, considering its music was not only memorable, but actually central to the gameplay as well. In Majora’s Mask, players play music with an ocarina, horns, drums, and a guitar. The simple tunes played have the power to dramatically change the world around you - you can change the weather, heal others, and alter the passage of time itself. To date, I still have not played another game that has so excellently used simple yet memorable melodies as a core gameplay mechanic. Check out this powerful moment, when Link encounters a cursed father who’s been locked away by his frightened daughter:
The soundtrack of Majora’s Mask is also well orchestrated and cleverly used. Each area has it’s own theme music that brilliantly matches the culture and characters that fill each zone. Take Clock Town, for example. The theme music begins with a light, festive tune on Day 1, matching its colorful characters as they prepare for a big celebration. By Day 3, however, as impending doom approaches, that same melody has taken on a more frantic, darker tone, as its inhabitants begin to flee and fear for their lives:
The rest of the game’s areas follow suit. The ocean-themed areas take on a more ethereal, expansive tone that matches the wide beaches and deep waters. Termina Field’s theme music is filled with heroism and adventure. Goron’s shrine is filled with fun, lighthearted drums that perfectly match the deep-belly laughter of its Goron residents.
The music of the Zelda franchise is not just an accompanying feature - it is a defining one. To love Zelda is to love the melodies that fill it. The beautiful songs of Majora’s Mask help create a gaming experience that may last you a lifetime. They certainly have for me.
Freud is a 20-something psychology nerd who’s interests are way too varied. Video games have been a life-long constant, though.
For more video-game/life musings and writing updates, you can follow me at @aFreudianTrip