Yesterday marked the 13th anniversary of the North American release of Majora's Mask on the Nintendo 64. Many regard this game to be the darkest entry of the series, due to it's themes of impending doom. Also, it's not a bad game at all.
Originally referred to as Zelda Gaiden, this was a new Zelda game, with development picking up right after Ocarina of Time, Majora's Mask is a direct sequel to Ocarina Of Time. This adventure takes Link from Hyrule to a land called Termina. While journeying through the Lost Woods, Link encounters the Skull Kid with two fairies. They attack him and steal Epona and his ocarina. While persuing the Skull Kid, Link is transformed into a Deku Scrub. Link follows the path and finds himself in Termina. He meets the Happy Mask Salesman, a character creepy in his own right who tells him that the Skull Kid attacked him and stole Majora's mask, a mask of great evil. Link also learns that the moon will crash into the world in three days, evidenced by the ominous messages that mark the individual days. Link has his work cut out for him.
Link has four temples in four regions to explore, but there is still a lot to do. Mask collecting is a big part of the game. Each has their own unique ability. There are four transformation masks, 20 regular masks, and masks collected from boss monsters. They can't be worn. The picto box is also introduced here. The game reuses a lot of the character models from Ocarina, naming and renaming them. Side quests consist of helping NPCs through their troubles, and often result in new masks, pieces of heart, and other rewards.
The three day cycle is unique to this game. The ads reflected that Link literally has three days to save the world. Link is actually in a three day loop. As in Ocarina Of Time, Link's most important tool is the ocarina. He can reset the three days using the ocarina. He can also slow time or speed it up. The instrument changes, depending on the form Link is in.
Despite having the Zelda name, and having really nothing to do with Princess Zelda, Majora's Mask is a strong title, and a worthy entry in the legendary series.