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The Legend of Zelda is one of the most iconic video game franchises in the industry’s history. Each game in the series has unique flair and features, but Majora’s Mask, initially released for the Nintendo 64, is one of the most memorable. These factors have helped Majora’s Mask stand out in the memory of longtime Zelda fans thanks to its surprisingly dark tone. However, the unique time mechanics of Majora’s Mask has also made it one of the more exciting games in the series for speedrunners.
Key Info Up Front
- Category: Any% Glitchless
- World Record Holder: Popesquidward
- World Record Time: 1 Hour 15 Minutes 26 Seconds
Majora’s Mask Overview
The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask was released in 2000 as a sequel to 1998’s Ocarina of Time. Since the game only had two years of development, it uses the same engine as Ocarina of Time and shares many animations and models. These similarities make the two games play very similarly to one another, but there are still some critical differences between the two.
The most significant change brought by the sequel is its cyclical time structure. The game follows Link after he arrives in a world named Termina, which exists in a separate dimension from Hyrule. However, he quickly learns that Termina is destined for destruction, as its moon will collide with the world in only three days. This impending doom sets the entire game in a three-day time loop. At the end of the loop, the moon destroys all of Termina, and the player has to start anew from the beginning to learn more information, solve puzzles, and gather gear to save the world.
Mastering how to quickly move and navigate the world of Majora’s Mask is the main factor that will cut down on the time of your runs. So, you should take a lot of time to practice and get these techniques down before you start worrying about all of the more advanced tricks.
There are two primary techniques for moving while Link is in his basic, human form. The first is repeatedly rolling. Rolling is slightly faster than walking, but you should only use it for short distances. If you need to move somewhere and it usually takes you more than five rolls, you shouldn’t roll for that section.
Instead, you should walk backward. Backward walking can be tricky until you’re familiar with the map and routes for the entire run. You must hold the lock-on so that Link stays facing one direction and then hold back on the analog stick to make him backpedal. When walking backward, you’ll also need to get used to an easy trick called the quick turnaround.
To do a quick turnaround, you need to lock the camera. Then, you need to release it and quickly lock the camera again as you pull the analog stick back. Doing so will spin Link around very quickly, cutting about a half second out of the process to usually get him to start back walking.
When you have Link put on the Deku mask and transform with it, you’ll also need to tweak your movement slightly. Instead of rolling, Deku Link spins and surges forward instead of rolling, which you should use all the time you are playing as him. You do want to time it correctly, so you must input another spin just as Link stops from the first one and starts facing forward again to conserve the most speed.
While you play as Goron Link, you should use his roll as much as possible. The Goron roll is done by holding “A” and making him quickly roll forward, eventually sprouting spikes to protect him from damage. Rolling does drain your magic, but it is one of the fastest movement options in the game.
Ground movement as Zora Link is identical to Human Link. However, this mask does also give him the ability to swim. During those sections, you want to be dolphin diving at the water’s surface constantly. Dolphin diving will repeatedly give him a little speed boost and keep him moving quickly.
There is a lot of text and dialogue throughout a playthrough of Majora’s Mask. Since you won’t need to read any of it during your speed run, you’ll want to mash through it as quickly as possible. You should text mash by mashing all three input options at once. These are the “A” and “B” buttons, as well as pushing the “C stick” up. If you use all three at a time, you’ll be able to get through all text lightning quick.
Pause buffering is one of the essential techniques in Majora’s Mask speed runs. It is done by repeatedly pausing the game, allowing it only to progress one frame at a time. Pause buffering can help runners get a lot of frame-specific tricks and techniques by advancing the game’s frames one at a time. It can also be used to input commands faster during the lag from unpausing.
The most crucial part of pause buffering is the timing. If you mash the pause button, you will stop the game from progressing any frames at all. The sweet spot is pausing, letting one frame pass, and then pausing again. To do this, you’ll want to press pause just as the unpause lag finishes. The unpause lag is also different in different locations throughout the game. So, you should practice the timing in each area where you will need to pause buffer during your run.
When equipping items, players get forced into a first-person perspective for a moment. This perspective change adds a lot of time to a run as runners rarely want to use the item in that perspective, and getting out of it wastes time. To avoid this, you can do what is called a quickdraw. To quickdraw an item, you must shield just after you press the button to equip it. Quickdrawing will look like Link blocks with his shield, but he will also have the desired item in hand when you lower the shield.
The gainer technique is a trick that allows runners to jump up to ledges that the developers didn’t intend to be able to. To do this, players need to have Zora Link walk up to the wall of the ledge they want to grab. They then need to use the target lock, release it, quickly input a backflip, and then use the target lock again. The gainer does have a very narrow window of frames that it will work on, so if you have a hard time getting it, you can use pause buffering to make it easier.
The long jump is a technique that allows you to throw Link with a bomb for extra distance. However, long jumping only works on ledges. To perform it, place the bomb near a ledge. Then, use sword slashes to get Link as close to the ledge as possible. Using sword slashes won’t make Link fall off the ledge, allowing you to have the bomb send you as far as possible without slipping off prematurely.
For the path in this run, I want to look at a strong beginner path that helped me with learning the game and mastering speedrunning techniques. This path is for the Any% category and doesn’t use significant glitches, so you’ll need to play through three loops.
There is little to note about the game’s opening with players playing as Deku Link. Make sure to use optimal movement and mash through the text as quickly as possible. The only trick for this part of the game is skipping the cutscene with Happy Mask Salesman.
To skip the cutscene, you’ll need to pause buffer when you go up the stairs to the door leading to South Clock Town. Then, once it starts loading into the town, save and quit before immediately reloading the game.
Time Cycle 1
Talk to Grandma
The first thing you should do in Clock City is getting to Grandma. The fastest way to do so is to go to the flower by her house and use it to get onto the second floor’s balcony. There, you can enter the door and run to Grandma quickly. You then need to talk to her twice and select to skip until morning, bringing you to the third day of the first time cycle.
Talk to Scarecrow
From Grandma, you need to head to the Trading Post as quickly as possible to talk to the scarecrow. You can speak to him and choose the option to advance time until it turns to night.
From the scarecrow, head back to the flower outside Grandma’s house and use it to catch the fairy nearby. From there, you can go out of the town to spin into patches of grass until you gather 60 rupees. After that, turn to the fair fountain fortress to get access to your magical powers.
You then need to take your rupees to the bank and deposit all 60 of them so you can grab them again later. Once banking is out of the way, head back to the southern part of the city and use a gainer to reach the wooden platform near the heart container. Then, once the clock strikes midnight, a door behind the heart container will open, allowing you to go up for your first confrontation with Skull Kid.
Skull Kid will drop the ocarina, which you can reach with a spin or two to pick up quickly. Once you have it, promptly equip it and play the song of time to reset the time cycle. Once the cutscene of resetting starts quit and then reload the game.
Time Cycle 2
The Song of Healing
Go backward and talk to the Happy Mask Salesman when you load back into the game. He will then give you the Song of Healing. Talking to Happy Mask Salesman will remove the Deku mask and return Link to his standard Human form. On your way out of the area, make sure to go around the corner quickly to activate the owl statue.
The Bomb Bag
After getting the Song of Healing, head left to the eastern part of town. You can go up the stairs to your left and the second set to the right. Follow that path forward, use a gainer to climb the ledge, and then open the chest at the end of the course to open a chest with a silver rupee. Then, head to the west part of town and head into the bomb shop. Buy the bomb bag there as well as ten bombchu.
Skull Kid Cutscene
As you leave the bomb shop, stop back at the bank to withdraw the 60 rupees you deposited there earlier. Then, leave the city out of the southern gate and walk backward to the rudimentary drawing. Reaching the picture will trigger a cutscene that you are unable to skip. It is an almost straight shot from the gate and is easy to hit without looking.
The Song of Soaring
You can then head around to the left of the drawing and go through the area transition. Walk backward through that area to the next area transition. Navigate the swamp by jumping on lily pads, and make your way to the Song of Soaring. After you learn the new song, activate the swamp owl and head through the maze to talk to the woman before exiting back to the swamp and going into the treehouse. Talk to the person behind the counter to get a free red potion.
After you have the above potion use the Song of Soaring to fast-travel back to the owl, you activated earlier in Clock Town. From there, leave through the northern gate. Make sure to grab some bombs from the tall grass and bushes, but make your way to the Mountain Village. The first thing to do when you reach Mountain Village is to activate its owl.
Then, talk to the chieftain’s baby. You then will want to obtain the Lens of Truth by jumping across the invisible platforms. Once you have it, exit and speed past the Goron ghost to get the Goron Mask, pull the stone in the middle of the area to reveal a hot spring, and fill up your bottle from the red potion with hot water.
Use the hot water to thaw the frozen Goron and learn how to play the Goron Lullaby. Use that to calm the baby before using the Song of Time to reset the cycle. Make sure to quit and reload the game once it saves to shave off extra time.
Time Cycle 3
From Clock Town, head out the western gate and go to the wall blocking the way to Great Bay. Lure a chu with you the whole way and crouch in front of it. When the chu runs into Goron Link in this position, it will throw him into the air, allowing you to nudge him over the wall early and head to the Great Bay.
Once you reach the Great Bay, head to Mikau and save him from drawing to get the Zora mask by playing the Song of Healing next to him. Then, head over to the Great Bay owl and activate it so that you can later take Song of Soaring to this area.
At this point, you will need to go through the Pirates’ Fortress mini-dungeon. To make this section faster, you can perform a skip to avoid having to go through the lengthy sewer section of the dungeon. The setup for the trick is exact, so be prepared to practice it a few times before you get it down.
To do the trick, you need to be playing as Zora Link and head to the rock slope with the Goron switch on top of it. Walk backward along the wall until you fall and grab the ledge. Then, climb up and make one attack. Use the first-person camera to look toward the wall and lock your target on it before taking off the Zora mask. Then, walk backward until you fall off the ledge and grab it.
Stand back off the ledge, lock the camera, and slash once. Release the target lock and then perform four regular slashes. Equip a bomb and hold it over your head until it explodes twice. You then need to pause buffer, and while you’re in the unpause lag input controls, take out a bomb, drop it, and then back walk. These inputs will have you drop the bomb in one frame and slide backward off the ledge.
Target and then climb back up the ledge and equip the Zora mask with your back to the bomb. The bomb’s explosion will send you flying toward a railing on the fortress. You must push forward around two frames before reaching the fence to make Link grab it. If you have difficulty timing it, use pause buffering to give yourself multiple chances to hit it.
You can then navigate the fortress, use Zora Link’s fins to deal with the pirates, and eventually knock the beehive down from the ceiling to grab the Hookshot. Once you have the Hookshot, grab the first stolen Zora egg and then use the Song of Soaring to head to the swamp.
Woodfall Part 1
Once in the swamp, you can use the Hookshot to move the giant octopus and reach the Woodfall dungeon. Go into the palace and grab the Beans. Then, ensure you get caught by guards and sent back to the beginning. Go back into the palace and use a backflip to get onto the doorframe so you can grab the Sonata of Awakening.
Once you’ve got that, use the Deku shortcut to enter Woodfall, and make sure to grab the nuts and sticks once you get there. With that, you’ll be in Woodfall proper. Drop down at the entrance and use Hookshot to get on the torch at the center of the room. You can use a jumping strike to reach the dinalfos miniboss to get the Bow. Once you have the Bow, use the Song of Soaring to get to the entrance of the Woodfall dungeon and then use it again to go to the Mountain Village.
Once you’re in the Mountain Village, you can head straight to the Snowhead temple. Once you get there, kill the freezards to reach the main room of the dungeon. Then, you can use the Hookshot to do a skip known as Pixelshot. To do it, use sword slashes to get to the edge of the right side of the first area in the dungeon.
Then, take out your Hookshot and use the first person aiming to try and aim for the torch two platforms above. This shot may take you a few tries to hit, as you can barely hit the torch at all. However, completing it will let you skip a large portion of the dungeon. From there, you can fight the wizzrobe to obtain the Fire Arrows.
Once you have the Fire Arrows use them to clear the boulders and stand on the central round platform, you can use a long jump to reach the path lined with pillars. I recommend doing the long jump as a Zora Link to make it a bit easier.
Follow that path to get the boss key and then head to Goht for the boss encounter of the dungeon. To kill Goht quickly, let him run past you to the end of the arena. Once he is there, lock on to him and stay just around the pillar in the center so you can hit him with arrows. Once he charges an electrical attack, dodge twice to the right and then twice to the left to dodge it. Then, continue hitting him with arrows, and the fight will be over soon enough.
Once Snowhead is finished, you’ll need to go and get qualified to use Goron Kegs. The certification is mostly movement based, so you should be able to get certified without any trouble. Once approved, talk to the Goron again to get an actual Goron Keg. Then, use Song of Soaring to return to Clock Town.
From there, exit out of the southern gate and head to Romani Ranch, and hit the owl statue there. Use the Goron Keg to blow up the massive boulder and learn Epona’s Song. You can then summon Epona and win the race to win the Garo Mask. Once you have the Garo Mask, head to Ikana Canyon to activate the owl before using Song of Soaring to return to Clock Town and buy another Goron Keg.
Woodfall Part 2
From Clock Town, you can head back to Woodfall to finish it using the Song of Soaring. Once you enter, drop down again and use the Hookshot to get up on the torch. From there, use the Hookshot to reach the main room and kill the gekko to pick up the dungeon’s boss key.
Head back to the main room and light the torch in the corner using your Fire Arrows. Lighting the torch will open up a door you must head through before using the Hookshot to reach the boss door. Behind it, you’ll have to fight the dungeon’s boss Odolwa.
Stone Tower Temple
Once you’ve defeated Odolwa, use Song of Soaring to return to the start of the dungeon and then again to travel to Ikana Canyon. There, head to the Stone Tower Temple. You’ll need to run to the left and blow up the wall using the chu. You can pull the big block back onto the switch before using Zora Link and Human Link to get the remaining buttons.
From there, head downstairs and use chus and spin attacks to kill the statues. Grab the key and head back upstairs to open its associated door. Swim across the water and step on the switch to get another small key. Use that key on its door and complete the mirror puzzle. Afterward, head to the garo master and kill him to get light arrows.
You then need to use Song of Soaring to return to the start of the Stone Tower to invert it. From the entrance, head right, use the Light Arrows on the block, and float up the rightmost wind. Hit the switch and grab the small key. You can then head up the other wind column to reach a long hallway with a floor switch.
Run to the hallway’s end, use a backflip, and attack to get in the middle while looking at the right wall. Then, jump left, use the forward slash to bounce off the wall, and be pushed back to the room, where you can grab the boss key. You can then kill eyegore to activate the switch it guards. Use your Hookshot on the chest from the switch to reach the boss room and face Twinmold. Once Twinmold is dead, use Song of Soaring back to the entrance and exit the dungeon.
You’ll now be ready for the final confrontation. If it isn’t nighttime, play the Inverted Song of Time to skip to nighttime. Then, wait in Ikana Canyon until midnight to Song of Soaring to Clock Town. In Clock Town, go to the clock tower again and play Oath to Order. Playing the song will trigger a cutscene and put you into the final fight with Majora.
During the first phase of fighting Majora, you can stun her with Zora Link’s fin attack. Then, hit Majora with a Fire Arrow. You will have to do this four times to make it to the second phase. While playing Zora Link, however, switch back when Majora uses the beam attack. Otherwise, being hit by it will be a one-shot kill.
Once the second phase starts, you should use your Fire Arrows to kill the remains. Using Normal Arrows also works well if you run out of Fire Arrows. After the remains, you can repeatedly shoot Majora with an arrow and hit her with quick spins.
After that, you will move on to the third phase. Once Majora is dead, equip Light Arrows and shoot Majora with one. Then, use quick spins to finish her off and complete your run.
Question: How Long in the Real World is the Three Days in Majora’s Mask?
Answer: The three-day cycle in Majora’s Mask lasts 54 minutes in the real world.
Question: Can you Beat Majora’s Mask in a Single Cycle?
Answer: No, you must play through multiple time cycles to beat the game unless you use glitches.
Question: How Long Does it Take to Beat Majora’s Mask?
Answer: Beating Majora’s Mask typically takes most players around 20 hours.
Majora’s Mask significantly impacts players because of its great tone and time structure. It also is an entertaining game to speedrun, thanks to the range of its categories and fun techniques to take advantage of. So, if you’re looking for a classic or a Zelda game to speedrun, I highly recommend giving Majora’s Mask a try.
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