Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Bomber's Notebook, Part 1 - New Kid in Town

For the past few weeks, The Vintage Game Club has been playing through and discussing The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask. If you're not familiar with the Vintage Game Club yet, take a moment to click the link and catch up on some of the most interesting discussion surrounding games going on right now. (A more competent introduction to the club can be found at co-founder Michael Abbott's blog, The Brainy Gamer). I find it amazing how this group can get me looking at a game I've already played five or six times before in a completely new light.

In order to set this play-through apart from my other save files and foster some critical thinking, I began the game considering the chain of events from Link's point of view. Early in the game, the player is given The Bomber's Notebook, an important item that embodies one of the key mechanisms for navigating Majora's Mask's unique plot structure. Whenever Link encounters an NPC that needs assistance, the who, what, where, and when is recorded in the Bomber's Notebook, and as the player progresses in the game they begin to fill the notebook with a detailed itinerary for the inhabitants of Clock Town and the surrounding world. Instead of the player needing to take notes manually, they can consult the Bomber's Notebook if they need to track down a particular character to complete a side-quest.

The game takes place over the course of three days, at which point a scary-looking moon crashes into Clock Town, destroying the world. Link escapes by traveling back in time to the start of the three days, repeating this cycle ad nauseum until he has collected the tools and information necessary to stop the apocalypse. The notebook takes on a role here, too - since all of Link's good deeds are reset when he travels back in time, he is left with only the stickers in his notebook as a lasting sign of his generosity. Link can't help everyone on every day (unless the player is feeling particularly ambitious), but he can console himself - and remind himself he isn't crazy - by consulting the permanent record in the notebook.

For the next week or so I'll be playing Majora's Mask, updating here and at the VGC's forum for the play-through, putting together a sort of Bomber's Notebook of my own. I believe that organizing the information presented by the game in this way will give me a new angle to observe the game from, and I hope to have some more interesting things to say in the future.

Three-Day Cycles: 2
Started quest; restored first Great Fairy and got Magic meter; recovered Ocarina of Time; learned two songs; turned human again; got 3 masks including Deku Scrub Mask; got Adult Wallet, Bomber's Notebook, Bomb Bag, and 4 Pieces of Heart; and met 8 people in Bomber's Notebook.


  1. This was a fantastic game. None of my friends seemed to like it nearly as much as I did, which I felt was sad. I wish I'd known about that site before they started on the 10th, 'cause I definitely would have played along.

    And yes, I liked OoT better than MM, but I still felt MM was a better game than WW. Lost my sword and spent the better part of 2 hours trying to find it. I subsequently gave up.

    Can't wait to see what the Bomber's Notebook has to say next!

  2. Shame that you can't catch up, Jeff, but keep an eye on that site - in a few weeks time it'll probably be time to start a new game, and one of the best parts about the club is playing a game you've never gotten a chance to play (or normally wouldn't play), and they always pick games worth playing.

  3. N64, and they released it on a disc for GameCube, and you can download it for 10 bucks on the Wii. Finish Ocarina before you play Majora's Mask, though :P MM is more difficult and more "off-beat," a nice companion to Ocarina in a lot of ways.

  4. Among my pals I'm the crazy old hermit spouting off about how Majora's Mask was (still is!) BETTER than Ocarina of Time. Yes the dungeons were stupid and transforming into a... bigfoot thing was kind of weird, but the sheer amount of hours I put into MM looking for all the masks surpassed those nitpicks. It's basically a game consisting almost entirely of side quests, which I thought was AWESOME. This was taking the idea of a sandbox world and adding something completely new to it - time control (timebox?). It was a cool and unique mechanic and one that I will always remember fondly.

  5. haha well my goal is to finish Ocarina at school, I'm bringing my N64 and since I'll have my own room I'll prob be able to have time to play it during the late hours of the night :)

  6. Nice, Emm. If you need a sounding board for talking out your experiences with Ocarina, you know who to talk to.
    Rudy - I love the term there, 'timebox' - coin it. Majora's Mask's draw is definitely its side quests, and I tend to agree that it's better than Ocarina in most ways. My only contention with that argument is that Majora's Mask really couldn't exist without Ocarina, partly because it requires you to have played Ocarina in order for it to turn everything you learned there upside down.


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