Nightmare Fuel / The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask
The Zelda series has its share of Nightmare Fuel
, but Majora's Mask
is the most infamous for it. There's a reason this game is considered the darkest in the Zelda series — many reasons, in fact:
- The introductory cutscene. From the slow, ambient and unnerving score in the background, to Skull Kid's first surprise appearance and the echoing laughter that accompanies each sentence, to the rather trippy final moments of the scene where Link is transformed against his will. The whole tone of the game is set up with this long and rather chilling cinematic.
- The little cutscene that plays when Link puts on a transformation mask. With the scream, the expression, a noise that sounds like bones breaking, and especially the eyes…
- The road to the Southern Swamp. A bleak trail filled with dead trees and swarming with Bad Bats and Chuchus. It gets worse at night, as Wolfos rise from the earth with their hideous howl to charge at you if you venture too close to wherever it is they are burrowed.
- Woodfall Temple: A dark, damp place in general. In particular, there is one area atop a flight of stairs just above a room filled with poisoned water. Upon entering, you walk into a passage down a hall that gets progressively dimmer and dimmer. Suddenly, the lights go out, and all you can see are hordes of glowing orange eyes appearing from the darkness. You try to run, but they follow at incredible speed, the sound of their shuffling punctuated by your cries of pain as they attack you.
- Speaking of Woodfall Temple, how about those plant-like platforms afloat on the poisonous water? Not only did they have teeth and a blood-red, gaping mouth ready to snap at you, but they made a horrible fleshy gurgle every time you jumped on them (although they explode if they eat Link in Goron form).
- The Ancient Kingdom of Ikana, land of the dead. To wander into Ikana is to throw away your life in reckless abandon.
- Majora's Mask itself. First of all, it's a mask that was used in ancient hexing rituals. Next, it shakes its "master" off, then proceeds to cause the Moon to crash into Termina by its own accord. After all that, in the Final Battle, it transforms into a ten foot tall demon that uses tentacles grown from its arms as whips. And finally, and probably the most nightmarish of all, it's coveted by a constantly-smiling salesman who makes you wonder how he got the mask in the first place.
- The Happy Mask Salesman probably deserves his own section; suddenly appears out of nowhere at the start of the game? Eerily complete knowledge of the way the Artifact of Doom was made and works? Near-constant creepy-ass smile and one of the most sinister laughs one has ever heard? Switching from emotion to emotion, going from jubilant to furiously screaming in your face in half a second? One of the creepiest moments was when you failed to get Majora's Mask back the first time. "Don't tell me... you did... get it back..."
- The Mask Salesman's mannerisms are doubly creepy because he's never actually shown changing expressions. Every time he does it, it shows him acting one way and then suddenly jump cuts to him acting another way. It gives a very stunted and jarring feeling.
- "I am counting on you to get my mask..." He manages to follow Skull Kid to Termina and identifies Link's Ocarina as capable of playing the Song of Healing: "[A] melody that heals evil magic and troubled spirits, turning them into masks." Oh, and he somehow gets hold of an evil mask that was supposed to have been sealed "in shadow" by an ancient tribe of sorcerers lost to time. He also teleports. All this makes him suspicious, but not terrifying, but his random red-eyed outburst and eerie manner contribute to the fact that the more you think about him, the creepier the salesman becomes.
- And of course, there's the Moon. The goddamn Moon that just sits in the sky with its horrible orange eyes and massive gaping mouth that never moves ever. And it never goes away, you can look up at it anytime. And it gets bigger and bigger with each passing day until it's taking up the entire sky with its angry grin. And during the third day? You can actually watch it inch ever closer in real time, slowly descending to the earth.
- The music in Night Of The Final Day, which begins playing at midnight of the Final Day (when the clock tower opens) up to the dawn deadline. It makes everything worse. A little girl who has been Mind Raped by aliens (or at least given a Heroic B.S.O.D.)? Worse. Fighting a seemingly-invincible dead guy who can take you out in one hit unless you have most of the heart containers, and full? Worse. Trying to make it to the bank before daybreak? Worse. And if you've ever seen the commercial where they play the music to live-action people in the countdown to the final day…
- Furthermore, that music supersedes any other background music that would otherwise be playing, including the enemy battle music. It plays regardless of which place you happen to be in at the time. There is one theme it does not replace: dungeon music. But if you're still working on a dungeon by that point, you're probably screwed anyway…
- The tremors that constantly occur during the final day are pretty creepy too.
- Amplifying the horror in the 3DS version, the sky becomes blood red on the night of the final day.
- The fact that the clock-tower, which only rang between dawn and dusk before, is ringing almost constantly in the final hours, really gives a feeling of the impending disaster and makes things even more unnerving.
- The Final Hours music also plays in the boss room just beyond the Moon Meadow, which is again unsettling being in a technicolor room with Majora's Mask in a hole directly opposite you. The music stops when Majora wakes up and starts the Final Boss fight of the game.
- Romani's return after she's kidnapped by "them" manages to be incredibly creepy in its casual simplicity. There's no cutscene of it happening. She's just dropped out of the sky. Imagine walking around the ranch on the Second Day, the regular background music cheerily playing and nothing out of place at all, and suddenly Romani falls out of the sky from God-knows where. And she spends the rest of the day wandering around in a daze, being unresponsive no matter how many times Link talks to her.
- More from music, but the BGM that plays during the alien attack will haunt you. The aliens themselves? Just re-textured poes. The mission? Laughably easy if you know where they come from or have the map that shows you their position, stand on the box out front and know that there are backup arrows in it. But that music. That god damned creepy, foreign, minimalist sound! Shivers down the back, a sudden feeling like you're surrounded…
- It's also completely possible to enter the ranch after the invasion has already begun. Imagine minding your own business and walking into the ranch, and suddenly seeing Them all around, complete with their theme music. Or if you spent all of the daytime in the first day beating Snowhead Temple, then unlocked the powder keg and entered the ranch for the first time…
- The Elegy of Emptiness Statues, especially the Link statue, which looks like it has the Happy Mask Man's grinning face. Hell, a certain work that is arguably the Trope Codifier for The Most Dangerous Video Game revolves almost entirely around "Hey, this statue is pretty fucking scary looking."
- Also, the Zora's face resembles Edvard Munch's The Scream, but scarier. The blank white eyes also make it look like a corpse.
- The Deku-Link statue is at least somewhat less creepy than the other ones, especially since you aren't required to use it as often since it's too light to hold down switches. The Goron statue, on the other hand, is arguably as (or more) creepy than normal Link's statue, given its blank eyes and that huge scar… (shudders)
- The Gibdos look drop-dead creepy. Creepier is the fact that Pamela's father was about to turn into one of them because of his research on them.
- Encountering a Poe isn't that scary when you've seen worse before. Encountering one in a haunted well out of tempting fate when told beforehand the well was haunted, then encountering a Poe who's surrounded by ominous music that is Zelda's equivalent to a really fast-paced version of Perish Song, now you get worked up where you feel brave only after you pulled your ocarina and start playing. Realizing that playing Song of Healing only to learn Sharp isn't affected and continues to slaughter you when you're supposed to play the Song of Storms instead.
- The Mirror Shield has the effigy of a person's face in what appears to be a constant state of torment or screaming for eternity. Strap it to your back and have it stare at you through the TV screen. Good. Now turn off your lights and stare at it. The silver lining is that there's nothing to indicate it's anything more than a shield, but none of the other Mirror Shields look this creepy.
- Do not play through the Stone Tower Temple if you have a severe fear of heights.
- The Stone Tower Temple is pretty creepy as it is, even if you're not scared of heights, what with the Gravity Screw puzzles and the fact that you have to use the Elegy of Emptiness statues to get there.
- The Stone Tower is one of the creepiest dungeons in the series and it manages it with stark simplicity. It is at the border of a cursed land where a fallen kingdom used to be. It is gigantic, it looks too big to even exist, and it's full of the undead and weird gravity powers. The whole place seems unnatural and forbidden, like a place where nameless and horrifying dark magical forces used to dwell and where no human foot should pass. No wonder a lot of epileptic trees put it forefront at theories of Termina being a land cursed by the gods.
- This dungeon plays Bizarrchitecture to the point of bordering on Alien Geometries. First of all, it appears to be located at the top of the tower, but from the outside, the tower's top doesn't look big enough to actually house the place, making it seem like you're passing into a seperate dimension or something. The "flipping" that the tower does seems flat out impossible, since when you flip the tower, the dungeon itself is not actually flipped over, the floors and ceilings are simply switched and all of the rooms are exactly where they were on the map before. Finally, where the hell is Twinmold's boss room even supposed to be in relation to the rest of the tower? You walk into the flipped version of the room where you fought Master Garo and see a hole in the ceiling-turned-floor that wasn't there before. You jump down it and suddenly find yourself in an enormous expanse of desert that doesn't appear to be anywhere near the temple.
- The initial part when Link gets transformed into a Deku Scrub. You have just fallen into a dark, endless abyss with creepy outlines of the masks floating about you and you land on a flower… Then, random spot lights shine down on the Skull Kid who then forces you to watch as Link, visibly frightened, is swarmed by angry Scrubs. And then the huge one appears… And the screen zooms into its snout. And when you wake up again, you're not human anymore.
- Those children on the moon… eugh… You may notice that they have the same hair color and clothing as the Mask Salesman… but don't think too hard about it.
- In the 3DS remake, all of them have the Mask Salesman's face as part of their model. It's a good thing it's hidden too.
- Those creepy questions the moon children ask after completing each of their mini-dungeons. Take the Goht child's question for example: You.. do you have any, friends? Do those people think of you as a... friend?... It makes you wonder whether or not that's true. If you talk to them while being a Goron, Zora, or Deku Scrub, they will simply say "Show me your true face." If you give them a transformation mask when they ask you for a mask, they will react as if you tried to give them poison:
Moon Children: No! Not that! Take it away, quickly!
- Their reaction to you wearing one of the masks in the 3DS remake almost reads like a threat.
Moon Children: ...Take off that mask...
- Bio Deku Baba and also ghostly white Dexi Hands. The noise the Bio Deku Babas make is just unnatural, not to mention the EYES they sprout when you cut them. Dexi Hands are not only annoying but… let's face it, their floating hands, that grab you if you get too close. That never bodes well in a Zelda game.
- When time runs out and you actually see the moon crashing into Termina, you'll see that the moon spares no one. As the moon falls closer to Clock Town, you can see several structures collapsing and then the moon seemingly explodes into a tidal wave of fire that consumes everything its path once the moon touches down. The game then cuts to Link standing in a field with a black sky as he turns around and sees the wave of fire rushing towards him. Poor Link can do nothing but shield his face with his hands and scream as the fire sweeps him up and completely destroys him. If you summoned three of the giants or less and let the moon fall, you also get to see the giants fall down as they run out of strength to hold the moon up.
- The game's commercials themselves were fairly scary, especially the English one which showed people around the world, time passing, and the moon slowly descending. It's like Nintendo was saying "beat this game or the world will end."
- The longer one centers around the host of Radio Zelda, who provides updates throughout of the Moon's rapidly-closing distance from Earth. In-between these, there's footage of civilians reacting to and trying to cope with the possible end of the world (including one woman who just walks through her apartment and mutters "I knew it was coming" over and over); near the end, the host takes a call from a distraught girl who wants to let her mother know that she loves her, before she breaks down in tears. The host lets the kid on whom Earth's fate is depending know that he's their last hope, in a tone that suggests that he may be losing hope himself. In short, several metric tons of existential terror condensed into around two minutes.
- This entire game is Nightmare Fuel for people who have maskaphobia (fear of masks). Especially the idea that you literally become the mask.
- And finally, we have none other than The Scream. Skull Kid's scream on the final day, which brings the moon down even faster.
- Both Spider Houses. They're abandoned buildings in areas where there are virtually no people, which raises all sorts of questions as to who lived in them and what happened to those inhabitants. They're terrifyingly silent, save for the scratching sound of the Gold Skulltulas wandering around. God help you if you're in a place where one of those bugs is in a place that isn't easy to find. Otherwise, you're stuck in a room where you can hear one, but you have no idea how to get rid of it. In the Swamp Spider House, there's an unnamed man who went inside and was cursed into being this spider/human hybrid. If you talk to him, he's clearly in pain and terrified. In the Ocean Spider House, there are some Stalchildren who are investigating the history of the place on Captain Keeta's orders. What happened there that was so significant that the captain of the army of Ikana sent soldiers to investigate?
- If you kill all the Gold Skulltulas in the Ocean Spider House, you get a message saying that "the curse" has been broken. You're never told what this curse is or how it was cast to begin with, but apparently it has something to do with people noticing the place, since you see a man wander in immediately after. Meanwhile, the Swamp Spider House's curse took hold on the man there when he wore the Mask of Truth inside and tried to read an inscription. The Mask of Truth is a helpful mask associated with the Sheikah, who those who played Ocarina of Time know were a group dedicated to guarding the royal family and were a force for good. What the heck happened to make wearing that mask cause that to happen to the man?
- The Deep Pythons. Are you afraid of the infamous eel from Super Mario 64? Well, great news: at Pinnacle Rock, there are eight near-expies of it, in a very very deep, dark hole. And you have to kill, and thus get up close and personal with, a number of them to progress the game. Have fun.
- Go ahead, look into the telescope on the third night. You know how you need to look at the Skull Kid for the Moon's Tear? Well, usually, when you zoom into Skull Kid, he just taunts you, slapping his butt or making silly noises. On the third night? He looks straight at you, head tilted, and shudders, twitching erratically Then it zooms out to see the Moon's Tear fall, and back onto the Skull Kid. He's still staring.
- The fourth day glitch. If you look into the telescope on the third night, and look away just a second or two before the moon hits, the clock will disappear and you have successfully done the glitch. No more time limit, so that's a good thing, right? Well… when the glitch is performed, every scheduled NPC disappears. All of Clock Town's residents (except for the guards), the Romani sisters… they're all gone. Sure, you have enough time in the world to do what you want, but it feels very eerie no longer having those Non Player Characters around. On top of that, the moon gets pushed back way up high into the sky, so the sky feels empty as well. On top of that, the colour of the sky is stuck in perpetual dusk / dawn. The game feels so much emptier if you do the fourth day glitch.
- There's another glitch that can be done on the third daynote . If you help Kafei try to steal the Sun's Mask back from Sakon, you have the ability to get Link to wear the Fierce Deity's Mask outside of a boss room. After that, you can leave the area and go to a populated place like Clock Town if you ride the river into the Southern Swamp. The thing is, the NPCs haven't been given dialogue to have if they talk to Fierce Deity Link. So if you talk to just about anybody, the game freezesnote . You just stand there, staring at whoever you tried to talk to, while it's dark and the music for the end of the third night plays. It's plenty unsettling.
- When you first leave Clock Town on your way to the Swamp, you will come across a tree where Tatl will stop you and tell you about how she and Tael met Skull Kid in the first place. When they first met Skull Kid, he was in a log, in the rain, maskless, and shivering. The combination of the sound effect for the shivering Skull Kid, along with his glowing red eyes, makes for a chilling scene.
- Try listening to this version of Clock Town's theme without getting freaked out.
- If you re-enter the Deku King's chamber after learning the Sonata of Awakening, you can witness the punishment of the monkey, which entails to the thrashing monkey suspended by his ankles and being dunked repeatedly into a boiling cauldron. When he emerges, he's motionless, unresponsive, and making the most unsettling, wide-eyed expression.
- The reactions of the NPCs as the timer draws to a close. The guards, previously quite effective at stopping you from leaving, begin begging you to run away and seek shelter. The banker is in a panic that you are still there. Anju and Kafei, if they are reunited, simply embrace and face death together. It's quite disturbing and moving at the same time.
- Clock Town itself becomes very eerie as the game progresses. It starts as a thriving, bustling town, but the NPCs dwindle in number as the days go on and people begin to try and escape the crashing moon. By the final evening, the town is all but empty, save for the guards, the Bombers, and a handful of NPCs who have stayed. The game does a remarkably good job of making the whole town feel empty and abandoned.
- The fact that everyone in the entire town is going to die if you don't stop the moon in time.
- If you have aqua-phobia, fighting Gyorg will be absolutely terrifying. Especially since the main way of hitting him is to go into the water as Zora Link, strike the beast and get back up before he gets back up and attacks you. It gets even worse when he sends the mini-versions of himself after you. Doesn't help that he's a That One Boss. The 3DS remake updates Gyorg's design to have a Majora-like eyeball in its throat.
- Not only that, the battle in the remake adds a second phase to the battle. Gyorg rams into the platform and sinks it, forcing you to fight underwater with the help of explosive mines. This is also now the point when Gyorg releases the mini-Gyorgs, so you have to battle them to survive, rather than just staying on the platform.
- Matter of face, all of the boss redesigns are creepy, since all of them now have incongruous eyes as a weak point. Gyorg's is, as before said, in its throat. Goht's is in its back. The Blue Twinmold has eyes on its thorax, while the Red Twinmold has what might be one in its throat, like Gyorg. However, Odolwa's is the worst. He has a literal eye in the back of his head, which looks right at you in his introduction cinematic.
- There are some theories pertaining to what happened to the Deku Butler's son. It is implied, though not confirmed, that the sad twisted tree beneath Clock Town is his long-lost son, as the Deku Butler is seen crying next to it during the credits. A common belief is that the Deku Butler's Son ran into the Skull Kid, who had then rendered him lifeless to gain the ability to transform Link into his Deku Scrub form. Since the Goron and Zora masks transform Link into people of importance who are also deceased (Darmani and Mikau), the Deku Mask has been thought to transform Link into the shape of the Deku butler's son. Geez, Adult Fear and Outliving One's Offspring at its finest. This also doubles as a major Tear Jerker.
- The dancing Redeads in Ikana Castle can be seen as Nightmare Retardant due to how easy it is to kill them (once you know which mask to use) and the absurdity of well, dancing Redeads. But at the same time the other spirits you meet in the vicinity are all soldiers involved in a war who seem to have some recollection of their own lives. Just think about being a dancer - no better than a servant - forced to dance forever even as your body decays into a zombiefied state.
- Speaking of, all Garo kill themselves when defeated. Yep - full on suicide in a Zelda game. The normal Mooks just burn up in magical green fire, not unusual for any defeated Zelda enemy, but the Garo Master actually pulls out a bomb and detonates it in his hand.
"To die without leaving a corpse. That is the way of the Garo."
- The Moon's updated model◊ from the 3DS version and Hyrule Warriors. It's amazing what a new set of teeth, a bigger nose, and more depth to the eyes can do.
- Another gem from the 3DS version: enjoy a rapidly twitching Skull Kid complete with mask in the corner any time the game loads something.
- Also, Tatl, despite pestering you about almost everything else, refuses to warn you about the Wallmasters, and seeing as how the areas they appear in are pretty dark, you might not see the shadow and your only clue to them might be that howling wind sound. And Beneath the Well has more Wallmasters in it than any area of Ocarina of Time did, making it even more terrifying. And yes, you can be grabbed as a Goron, Deku, or Zora and yes it's just as scary as just Link. There's even a room with TWO Wallmasters, that come down one after the other. If you're not prepared, and you hated Wallmasters before, you WILL piss your pants in this area.
Go to the lair of the temple's boss?
Yes / No