The Legend of Zelda is a time-honored video game series with multiple iterations and multiple entries. As consoles have evolved from generation to generation so too has the series, with games now spanning across multitudes of consoles and storylines to boot. While the series is littered with classics Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask are two of the most popular from the Nintendo 64 days and often both games end up on either side of the age-old discussion of "Which one is better?" While this list won't provide a definitive answer, it will at least serve as an excellent start giving reasons why each game could be considered better than the other.
10 Ocarina of Time: It's More Relevant
One of the best things about long-running series such as this one is that they're fantastic for lore junkies and series loyalists; those that play every entry to pick out every little detail to then be able to apply it to the universe at large. From this standpoint, alone Ocarina of Time gets the advantage for its part of the series canonical universe. Majora's Mask, while also canon, can be considered less important because of its setting of Termina which is considered an alternate reality to Hyrule created by Skull Kid and only takes place over three days. In several circles Majora's Mask, while loved, is ultimately considered to be more of a sidequest in the overall storyline of the franchise compared to Ocarina of Time.
9 Majora's Mask: A Darker Vibe
Because Majora's Mask takes place in what is considered to be an alternate reality, the game takes liberties from other mainline game that allows the mood in Majora's Mask to be much darker than what players may have been used to from Ocarina of Time. Termina is a land trapped in a 3-day limbo influenced by a demonic mask and perpetually under the looming gaze of a faced moon that gets closer and closer with each passing day. If anything, though, the opening sequence of the game which sees Link cursed to take the form of a Deku scrub was probably one of the most frightening cutscenes in a non-horror video game at the time. That's just it; Majora's Mask is scary without trying to be, and this gives it a unique advantage.
8 Ocarina of Time: The Ocarina Mechanic
Pop quiz! Which song is this: right-a-down, right-a-down? What about down-a-down-a, right-down-right-down. Or maybe you can recognize the one that goes: a-down-up, a-down-up? If you recognized all of them, congratulations; you're probably an ocarina expert. This mechanic is of the namesake of the game and is one of the most beloved mechanics from the series as well. The songs played on the Ocarina of Time could be used as simple ways to solve puzzles and save time, but are memorable and iconic even to this day which further cements Ocarina of Time as one of the greatest games of all time.
7 Majora's Mask: The Mask Mechanic
With regard to the previous entry, it's worth noting that the in-game item known as the Ocarina of Time was not exclusive to the game of the same name. In fact, the Ocarina of Time was also available in Majora's Mask and our favorite ocarina songs made it into the song as well. What Majora's Mask did bring in a refreshing way were masks. The mask mechanic allowed Link to assume a different form as well as utilize the unique powers and abilities endowed by that form. The Deku mask gave Link access to the Deku Palace. The Zora mask allowed Link to breathe underwater, and so on. These masks gave players an additional element to utilize in their three-day quest to save Termina from its terrible fate.
6 Ocarina of Time: The Music
This detail, of course, refers to the actual soundtrack, not just the ocarina songs. The soundtrack of a game is an integral part of the gaming experience and Koji Kondo, composer of several soundtracks in the series, knocked it out of the park with this one. Ocarina of Time's soundtrack has been lauded as one of the best, including a 2001 ranking by GameSpot as one of the top 10 video game soundtracks. As a testament to the soundtrack's popularity, one can simply reference the seemingly endless amount of musical content that draws from Ocarina of Time as a reference or as sample material.
5 Majora's Mask: The Music
This may seem like a cop-out considering it's the same detail as the previous one and especially so since die-hard fans of the series will know that the soundtrack for Majora's Mask is largely a reworked version of the soundtrack from Ocarina of Time. It is, however, that fact that makes Majora's Mask's soundtrack just as great. The reworking on many tracks gives the game an eerie feel and vibe that matches so incredibly well with the darker overtones that permeate through the Majora's Mask experience and the fact that it works so well is deserving of another point to the game's credit.
4 Ocarina of Time: The Dungeon Bosses
Because Ocarina of Time is the first game in the Legend of Zelda franchise that utilizes 3D graphics, it's no surprise that the dungeons and dungeon bosses are some of the best in the series. While some of them don't quite measure up (Looking at you, Morpha) there are several that are memorable such as the Phantom Ganon fight that introduced mechanics that some gamers had never experienced before, and others like Bongo Bongo were just downright jarring. Gamers of all sorts had an appreciation for both types. The dungeons are such an integral part of the Legend of Zelda experience and the dungeon boss is the culmination of that part of the experience so having memorable dungeon bosses helps Ocarina of Time truly stand out.
3 Majora's Mask: The Final Boss
Controversial as it may be, this list will give the award of a better final boss to Majora's Mask. Acknowledging that an adventure culminating to an epic battle against Ganondorf and eventually Ganon as well in Ocarina of Time sells the whole "Hero of Hyrule" and the epic story that gamers get to experience, Majora's Mask has gamers instead squaring up against an enemy whose motives aren't truly clear. The energy trapped within Majora's Mask is that "Bad thing" incarnate that the NPCs whisper about and players are desperately racing against, and finally going up against it is more noteworthy than facing off against the baddie that everyone knows is bad.
2 Ocarina of Time: The Start of Something Big
From a purely technical standpoint, Ocarina of Time was ahead of its time when it was released. A huge 3D world, a helpful lock-on mechanic, a fantastic Night/Day system, non-combat systems like fishing and horseback travel; all these were details that the game provided and provided so well. Ocarina of Time paved the way not only for the Legend of Zelda series but for the RPG genre in general. While the game has certainly aged as all games ultimately do, there was a sense of mysticism and fascination when gamers of all backgrounds first picked it up. That kind of value will always be worth something.
1 Majora's Mask: A Fantastic Story
Ocarina of Time gave gamers an amazing gaming experience. Majora's Mask used a similar engine and several similar systems and assets, but it presented a story within the Legend of Zelda universe that stands out from the rest. It's not just about Link saving Hyrule, rescuing Zelda, and uniting the triforce and so on. It's about a little town that exists in limbo and Link has the power to do something about it, and so he stays to help. Doing so allows him to peel back the layers behind Majora's mask, Skull Kid, and the story that surrounds Termina; it's that story that makes Majora's Mask such a noteworthy gaming experience.