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Which is the Better Game? Okami vs. The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask

7/16/12 2:21pm
tl;dr

 There's a 50% chance that the one you prefer won in the end.

This is another one of those "which is the better game?" blogs that pop up from time to time. And like the last one I did, I'm surprised that nobody has tried to compare and contrast these two games. I'm talking about two of my all-time favorite video games Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask and Okami.

majorasmask-2.jpg picture by Flashpenny

vs.

okami5.jpg picture by Flashpenny

Both of these have a sort of cult following. Majora's Mask was the sequel to Ocarina of Time (I'm not comparing those two because it's pretty obvious which I prefer) and had many new innovations. Thus it's a sort of love it or hate it game but those who like it generally think of it as one of the best in the series, if not the best.

Okami is fairly similar in that it did poorly in sales but those that did get the game also rank it as one of their favorite games of all time. I am among both groups and I think both of these games is the best of their kind (Okami's gameplay is heavily based off of the LoZ series). But which of the two is truly superior? Well let's find out!

Protagonist

majoralink5_2.jpg picture by Flashpenny

vs.

okami-amaterasu-art-fire.jpg picture by Flashpenny

Now given the fact that I'm a dog person and I tend to view the LoZ series' protagonist as being effeminate in appearance, it's probably a bit easy to guess who's the winner here. And yes, Amaterasu (the wolf) definately wins this part of the contest.

In all honesty, both of them are silent protagonists but Amaterasu gets points for actually having a personality. I'm going to be quite frank here: Link shouldn't be topping the top of every video game protagonist's list. Yeah I know the whole silent protagonist thing is meant to help you be immersed in the game but it makes it harder to actually appreciate these characters.

Ammy (the wolf's nickname) gets points for actually having a personality. Now given that she is a wolf, she obviously doesn't talk but this thing gets really entertaining. Okami is one of the most surprisingly funny games I've played in my life because of this dog. Amaterasu oftentimes ends up as the butt of several jokes and gives some pretty hilarious facial expressions as a result.

As a good example, just before the first boss battle in the game, Ammy walks off a cliff while still thinking she's on solid ground. When she realizes she just walked off a cliff, the dog comes crashing down with her mouth wide open in pain and shock. I'm surprised that I actually laughed. And that's just scratching at the surface, the dog gets many more hilarious scenes.

Not to mention unlike most silent protagonists who are just goody two shoes, this wolf actually has an excuse for being virtually flawless. She's the goddess of all that is good. Also if it came down to just who's more powerful, Amaterasu can change the time of day, create matter, cut enemies in half without raising a finger (er paw), walk on water, swim in lava, create tornadoes, control fire, ice and electricity and that's when she's not even at full power.

So for being an actual character, I have to give this ballot to Amaterasu. Link works for immersing you in the adventure but he has about as much personality as a rock.

Winner:

okami-amaterasu-art-fire.jpg picture by Flashpenny

Of course what are good heroes without having great villains to match them? And both of these games have pretty cool villains.

Villains

MajoraMask-1-1.jpg picture by Flashpenny

vs.

d0d31da4.jpg picture by Flashpenny

Even though both of these games are extremely character-driven, both of them have under-developed yet surprisingly awesome villains. Also both of them get the typical "true villain plot twist" that appears too many times in video games although they don't seem like cop outs which is nice.

In Majora's Mask, the game starts off with Link getting mugged by the scarecrow-like Skull Kid. He uses the hexing mask he's wearing to mutate Link although it's revealed shortly thereafter that a. the mask was an ancient, evil artifact and b. the Skull Kid was just a lonely child. As if these two hints weren't big enough, it's eventually revealed at the end of the game that he was being possessed by the Mask.

And I have to say that I really like Majora as a villain. He works for the same reason Heath Ledger's Joker works: he's chaotic and sadistic but we don't know why. The less we know about a character, the more we're fascinated by them and wonder why they're like that. With Majora we don't know whether it's a demon, a wizard, a lost soul, a God or some insignificant fifth party. All we know is that he wants you and everyone in Termina dead.

Okami has a much larger villains gallery and since we're on ScrewAttack where everyone has either played this game or knows about this game, I'm not really spoiling when I say that it's longer than it lets on. There are essentially three villains: first is the eight-headed snake demon Orochi, then is the fox Lord Ninetails who was one of the spirits created from Orochi's corpse and finally Yami, the God of Darkness.

Yami works on the same level as Majora and is the essential antithesis of Amaterasu. (Please note that if you don't want any spoilers skip ahead to the next paragraph because I will be giving away spoilers as to what Yami's true form is.) Amaterasu is the creator of all that is good, Yami is the creator of all that is evil. Amaterasu gets down in the dirt to fight physically, Yami hides behind his magic to fight. Amaterasu draws her power from humanity's prayers, Yami draws his power from people's neglect of Gods and utilizes technology (symbolizing technology as the root of all evil).

I'm going to go with Majora on this one. Yami is pretty badass but he still can't compete with the powers that be and there's more told about him than Majora. Majora seems like a force of nature and considering that he was trapped in a mask for the majority of the game, that raises the question as to what kind of power he would have if he ever got out.

Winner:

MajoraMask-1-1.jpg picture by Flashpenny

Now given that these games are a bit more story-driven than the other games like them, I'm going to do a section on secondary characters (companions included).

Secondary characters

Tatl.jpg picture by Flashpenny

vs.

Issun.jpg picture by Flashpenny

This is probably going to be the hardest one to decide because I love the supporting cast of both games. But it has to be done. Let's start with the game's main companions. In Majora's Mask it's a fairy named Tatl and in Okami it's a bug-sized being named Issun (he's known as a Poncle which are pint-sized humans).

Tatl is essentially an upgraded Navi. By this I mean she's not yelling "HEY" and "LISTEN" all the goddamned time! This is instead replaced by a bell chime which tends to not really be audible and her info tends to be a lot less "captain obvious." She's sarcastic and a bit rude but ultimately warms up to Link. In other words she's like Midna only about six years earlier and more likeable.

In Okami, the companion is Issun. He doesn't give advice so much as he just does the talking for the duo. Hey remember when I said that Okami was a surprisingly funny game for me? Issun helped in that regard as some of the absolutely funniest moments came from the interactions her has with Ammy. For example when a couple in the game are having a moment, Issun interrupts prompting Ammy to eat him to shut him up.

There's a lot more to this character than meets the eye though and the makers of the game really spent a lot of time developing his character. While he's also a bona fide pervert (making lewd comments every time an attractive woman comes up), he's still a good guy deep down which leads to him developing a sort of master-pet relationship with Amaterasu. Not to mention that his past is actually explained in the game and why he's not with the rest of the Poncles.

If I were to choose the better companion, it'd probably be Issun. Both are pretty good companions but Issun was a far more well-developed character. For the next part of this comparison, let's compare the game's "mysterious man." In Okami it's Tao Master Waka who is a French prophet that knows Amaterasu from a previous experience. In Majora's Mask, it's the Happy Mask Salesman who probably inspired his own fair share of nightmares.

happy-mask-salesman-10420.jpg picture by Flashpenny

Don't think he's evil? The bastard stole Mario's face!

These are both interesting characters because of the less is more strategy I mentioned above. Waka is a bit of a mysterious character who regularly pops up throughout the game, oftentimes after you complete a dungeon. He often carries a sense of arrogance and hints at having superior motives. I'd probably give him points simply because he annoys Issun and it's funny watching the Poncle's reaction every time he shows up.

The Happy Mask Salesman is far, far, far creepier though. At the beginning of the game he mentions that he used to possess Majora's Mask before Skull Kid mugged him and stole it. Thus he hires Link to get the mask back. Sure that doesn't sound too bad but there's far more to this character than meets the eye.

First off, I can't shake this sensation that he and Majora know each other somehow. They're both creepy and in the final level the kids frollicking around the field in Majora's Moon having the same hair and skull structure as the salesman and say they want to become mask salesman. Also next time you play this game (or when you play it) pay attention to this character's motions.

If you notice it, he never makes one smooth, solid motion. Instead he always just switches from one position to the next like he's swapping masks. For example one second he's holding a mask and the next he's bowing. You don't see him move to the bow, you just see him in the bow. Also he summons a pipe organ out of thin air and teleports away at the end of the game. Not to mention that when he goes into a rage-fueled frenzy, he's the first of many mindfucks in the game.

His grin is haunting

And he's STILL grinning!

I'd probably go with the Salesman because he's a lot more entertaining due to the "less is more" approach. After that, the rest of the cast is pretty much hit or miss. In Majora's Mask you learn about these characters via side-quests while Okami has a lot more NPCs involved in the story.

I think this would be a good time to say that Okami is the only game I've played where the game can be divided into a three-act piece. The first act takes place in Shinshuu Field and the surrounding area as you face Orochi, the second act is on Ryoshima Coast as you purge Oni Island and the third act is in the northern country Kamui as you save the land from eternal winter and fight Yami.

I say this because in each of the thirds is a central character that Ammy meets up with regularly: in the first third it's Susano, in the second third it's the priestess Rao and in the final third it's Oki. They're all pretty well-developed characters as are several other characters you interact with in the story.

In Majora's Mask you actually go out on side-quests to converse with these people. For example, the highlight of the game is Anju and Kafei where you reunite this couple. This leads to a very dark turn as these two go to the ends of the earth and are willing to wait for the apocalypse for each other.

That being said there's the sequence known as "Last End" where you talk to all the NPCs in Clock Town as they await for the moon to hit and for their final judgement. This is really sad as everyone does their own thing, awaiting judgement day.

Overall this is a really tough call but I'm going to have to go with Majora's Mask on this one. In Okami, the characters you care about are all involved with the main story one way or another. Most of the NPCs that don't have an impact on the main story don't really receive much development which is something MM excels at.

For example, In Majora's Mask, you only know of the character Mikau for the 5 minutes you meet him. However I really felt pity for this guy, especially since the rest of the band (which he's part of) don't know that their friend died. That's really tragic. And I haven't even scratched the surface of all the characters you got to know.

Also this game succeeded in having no annoying characters. Kaepora Gabora is actually helpful in this game and you only see him twice (which is a big step-up from OoT) and Tingle isn't nearly as bad as everyone says he is (Wind Waker is another story). Okami, on the other hand, drove me up a wall the first time I played it with its gibberish speech patterns utilized by the characters. Yeah, I got used to it eventually but it's irritating at first.

Still, like I said, both games have a phenomenal cast of secondary characters but since the makers of Majora's Mask went ahead to make three-dimensional characters that you never have to actually meet, that just makes me compelled to give it the victory.

Winner:

Tatl.jpg picture by Flashpenny

But of course some of the best parts of any action-adventure, Zelda-esque game is the bosses.

Bosses

322677-goht_large.jpg picture by Flashpenny

vs.

orochi.jpg picture by Flashpenny

This is a bit of a tricky decision because both of these games have very, very fun and/or epic boss fights. All of them always bring something new to the table with something you learned relatively recently in the game so you have to use it to take the boss down.

If I were to begin comparing and contrasting, I'd point out that Okami is a lot more story-driven in its boss fights than Majora's Mask is. In Okami, a boss is actually an evil villain that you have to defeat instead of a beast that the main bad guy summoned to guard the local Guardians from rising again. For example let's look at both game's first boss.

In Okami the first boss is the Spider Queen who is an old follower of Orochi who's willing to help him regain his power. In Majora's Mask the first boss is Odolwa, a jungle warrior who's just there to stop you from advancing further in the game. There's nothing wrong with that, they're just two different styles of gameplay.

For the final bosses, they're both really fun, really challenging final battles so I can't really decide there. However that point does bring up a bit of a mild complaint with the bosses in Okami: they're a tad on the easy side. With the exception of Yami at the end of the game, you can probably beat every boss in the game without seeing the game over screen once.

In Majora's Mask the bosses are pretty challenging. For example Odolwa damn near killed me the first time I fought him and Twinmold (the fourth boss) was a total nightmare. Not to mention that MM has Goht. This giant mechanical bull is one of the most fun boss fights under the sun: you have to chase after him as a Goron and run him down. Believe me it's quite fun.

Still, if I had to choose a victor, and of course I do, I think I would probably go with Okami albeit only by a very, very, very  slim margin.  Like I said, the bosses here are a lot more story-driven and, truth be told, there aren't really any downright annoying bosses either (which is amazing for any video game period). With MM, there are some bosses (particularly Twinmold) that got a tad irritating but Okami never had that problem. For those reasons, Okami does win in this category but, like I said, only by a very slim margin.

Winner:

 orochi.jpg picture by Flashpenny

Soundtrack

Stone_Tower_interior.jpg picture by Flashpenny

vs.

CPCA-1016670_box_front.jpg picture by Flashpenny 

(The MM pic is where some of the best music in the game is for those of you wondering why I chose that pic to represent it.) I shouldn't really have too much trouble choosing this one for obvious reasons. Both games have great soundtracks but Okami came on a later game engine which obviously means that it has a much larger soundtrack than Majora's Mask. 

Not to mention that as much as I enjoy Majora's Mask, it's soundtrack is a bit of a weak point. Not that it's bad, on the contrary it's freakin' awesome, but it does repeat. For example all four of the cursed parts of Termina are just the same song remixed four times. Also compare the two games' final boss music.

 

 vs.

 

Yeah while Majora's Wrath's theme is just a remix, more intense version of Majora's theme song, Yami sounds like you're really facing off against the emperor of eternal darkness. What about the chase music?

 

 vs.

 

See? Okami's better.

Now to be fair, I shouldn't be defending Okami's soundtrack too much as for what Majora's Mask lacks in quantity, it more than makes up for it in quality. For example, in MM the dungeon music perfectly encompasses the feeling of being in an eerie harmony of darkness and evil. In Okami, the dungeon music is bland. The only dungeon music in Okami I liked was the Moon Cave. So let's take the best dungeon songs from both games and compare them.

 

 vs.

 

Yeah, what Okami has in a short epic piece, MM easily beats for sheer catchiness. Not to mention that MM has three of the most saddest pieces of video game music ever made: the Song of Healing, the Astral Observatory and, my personal favorite, Last End.

 

 

 

Not to mention that while MM has only one boss song, it's incredibly epic and catchy.

 

However Okami equalizes this with several boss songs all of which are equally epic and catchy such as the Battle of Orochi, Battle of the Twin Demons and The Sun Rises, one of the greatest final boss themes of all time.

 

 

 

So yeah, this is a bit of a hard decision as I haven't even shown you half of the awesome themes in both of these games. But overall I'd probably go for Okami simply because it succeeds in both quality and quantity. Yeah, I know you shouldn't aim for quantity but when both games have a lot of quality, the quantity is sort of necessary to decide who's superior. 

Winner:

CPCA-1016670_box_front.jpg picture by Flashpenny 

Unique for games of these kinds, they both focus on the overworlds but both still have pretty well-crafted dungeons. So which games has the overall better world?

World

000.jpg picture by Flashpenny

vs.

okami_02_118.jpg picture by Flashpenny 

For the record, both of these games have extremely well-made overworlds but let's start off by talking about Okami. While it's definately larger than Termina Field (Majora's Mask's overworld), Amaterasu moves faster than Link does so it doesn't feel like a chore to go everywhere. Anyway remember how I said earlier that Okami essentially has three acts? Well each act has its own overworld. 

The first overworld comprises of Shinshuu Field, Agata Forest and Taka Pass. The field and pass are borderline-identical while Agata Forest is a lush forest region. The second overworld is Ryoshima Coast which is Japan's coastline along with Sei-an City, the nation's capital. The final overworld is Kamui which is a barren, snowy wasteland.

In Majora's Mask the overworld is Termina Field and it's actually pretty small compared to most other overworlds. Had it not been essential to enter Ikana and the Great Bay, Epona wouldn't actually be needed to complete the game. Termina Field is big enough to be immersive but small enought to make it not feel like a chore to cross it which is definately a step-up from most other Zelda games.

If we're talking about the other areas of the games' main worlds, Termina has six overall. There's Woodfall Swamp, the Snowhead Mountains, the Great Bay Ocean and Ikana Valley which are where the game's four main dungeons are. The other two are the Milk Road, where the local ranches are located, and Clock Town, the game's main hub.

Okami is generally more complex than that due to various villages and what-not and can just be comprised into those three main places. Between these two categories (the towns and overworlds) I can't truly decide since they both work. Because Link moves pretty slow, Termina Field is definately an upgrade from most Zelda games but Amaterasu moves pretty fast which makes it much easier to cross the place, no matter how big it is.

The thing that defines me which one has the better general world is the dungeons and I have to say that Majora's Mask wins in this regard. The thing about Okami is that it definately has a brilliant overworld but sometimes I think that it's meant to make up for the dungeons. They're not bad, they're just not that good and don't really have much to immerse you into it.

Majora's Mask has about five major dungeons (Woodfall Temple, Snowhead Temple, Great Bay Temple, Stone Tower Temple and Majora's Moon). However there are several areas that you have to acess that can be considered dungeons of their own which would round the number up to about nine (Ikana Graveyard, Gerudo Lagoon, Ikana Well and the Ancient Castle of Ikana).

So therefore, these are nine of the most well-designed dungeons in Zelda history. Let me put it to you this way, the Snowhead Temple revolves around destroying this one gigantic pillar so you can scale upwards to the top of the temple. And the Stone Tower Temple, my personal favorite, you can flip the place upside-down. That's freakin' awesome!

Thus for being an upgrade from Ocarina of Time as well as having extremely well-designed levels, Majora's Mask takes this category for the win.

Winner:

000.jpg picture by Flashpenny 

All right so the score is tied once again. So which is the all-around better game. Well let's analyze gameplay (and to a lesser degree, story) for the win.

Gameplay

majoras-mask-wallpaper1.jpg picture by Flashpenny

vs.

Okamicover3.jpg picture by Flashpenny 

This is going to be one of the hardest decisions I'll ever make because I love both of these game's gameplay. First let's look at the stories. In Majora's Mask, the Majora-possessed Skull Kid has pulled down the Moon which is threatening to crush and obliterate Termina in 3 days' time. Whenever you get to a certain point you thus have to play the Ocarina of Time to restart the 3-day cycle (rather than just rewind to when the Skull Kid mugged the Happy Mask Salesman and shank him so as to stop all this from happening in the first place).

So yeah, you're going to end up using the Ocarina of Time more than you did in Ocarina of Time such as warping, healing the dead, cloning yourself, awakening turtles, putting things to sleep and alternating the flow of time. Not to mention that you also get masks which range from doing absolutely nothing to having extreme uses. Especially the transformation masks which can turn you into a Goron and Zora (and Deku and Giant but those are useless) which make for some great fun.

In Okami, you're the Goddess of the Sun, Amaterasu and your job is to stop the flow of evil spreading across ancient Japan. This game's a lot more combat-based as you use various items, such as a disk and sword, to fight in hand-to-hand combat and use a brush for offensive purposes as well.

In order to purge a place of evil one must find a tree and rejuvenate so as to turn the place into a place of good and happiness once again. And also as you move on in the game, you have to find all these brush Gods who help you and give you various powers which is really essential in the gameplay.

Both of these have their flaws. The fact that Majora's Mask is timed have turned people off from the game and Amaterasu is so ridiculously overpowered that the game is actually relatively easy. Not to mention that in Okami you can get an Astral Pouch that will resurrect you should you die which makes this whole game pretty damn easy.

So both of them have their flaws in gameplay but what about story? Both of these are far more story-driven than other action-adventure games but they both tell a story in different ways. Okami is sort of like a fairy tale where everything is explained and nothing is really left ambiguous. Which is good considering what it was trying to do.

MM has a far deeper story which is really told through the characters rather than the narrator. Majora's Mask is about immersing you into this world and wondering why it was forsaken (Kaepora Gabora says early on that Termina is destined to fade away) as well as pitying all those who are suffering as a result.

Both of them do really well in telling their story in their own way but Okami does have a few drawbacks to its story. Specifically speaking that it's way too predictable. By this I mean that there weren't any real plot twists that surprised you and most of them you could see coming from a mile away. Here are just some plot twists that I guessed before they occurred and you can too.

SPOILERS Susano released Orochi, Rao is Ninetails in disguise, Waka is the sole survivor of the Moon Tribe that got massacred by Yami on the Ark of Yamato, Ume is one of the Eight Canine Warriors, the Spirit Gate sent Amaterasu and Issun back to the night where Nagi slew Orochi 100 years in the past, the game continued after Orochi and Ninetails were slain etc. END SPOILERS

In addition to that Majora's Mask is also a shorter game which is advantageous in a few ways because it means that it is less likely to make any mistakes during the game. Okami is a much longer game with three acts and for the most part it holds up pretty well. I say for the most part because let's talk about the "second act."

The part on Ryoshima Coast is definately going to be the part of the game where some gamers are going to be turned away from the game altogether. It just feels like it drags on for too long and, unless you have enough Demon Fangs to buy the tablet that allows you to walk on water from the Emperor, you're going to have some troubles swimming due to the fact that Ammy is a horrible swimmer.

Also this is really the part of the game where it feels like it's dragging on without anything of importance happening for a while. So yeah the second act of the game is pretty sketchy but on the other hand the first and third acts are pretty solid. It takes itself seriously but not enough so that it can get a few laughs in.

Not to mention that in all honesty, while both games make you feel sorrow and pity for the NPCs, Majora's Mask did that first. And you can't really bring up the "so-and-so started it while so-and-so perfected it" because it actually did perfect the formula the first time through. Okami just made it equally perfect.

Again, I love both of these games and think that they're both sheer masterpieces. But if you put me on the rack and forced me to decide which was truly better, I'd have to go with the Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask. It started the trend of deeper stories, it perfected the LoZ formula and it's definately one of the most worthwhile experiences in video game history.

Winner:

majoras-mask-wallpaper1.jpg picture by Flashpenny

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