The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask
Developed by Nintendo EAD. Published by Nintendo. Released on October 26, 2000.
The hero from Ocarina of Time goes off on a quest to find his fairy companion. An altercation with a prankster tosses Link in the world of Termina. A crazy madman known as Skull Kid plots to crash the moon into the Earth in three days. He sets out to do an impossible task and stop the moon.
The game over of Majora's Mask didn't just end at you losing all your health and Link dying. Instead, game over is the moon crashing into Termina and obliterating countless innocent lives. Ganondorf seems like a casual villain in comparison. Ganon doesn't have a timetable for his takeover while the Skull Kid give Link only three days. There's more emotional tension in the game's atmosphere with the knowledge of limited time.
Nintendo had managed to instill this lingering fear by making the moon look menacing. Adding to the intensity of the impending threat to Termina was a clear and present danger. Clock Town itself named around the concept of time, Link only had three days to fix this world. The player is unable to sympathize with the power to cheat time and turn back the clock. Yet the Clock Town townspeople's feelings about world ending doom tell a story of their own.
The brave swordsman who boldly challenges to take on the moon himself, is seen cowering in fear in his dojo's backroom right before the moon apocalypse. The Happy Mask Salesman himself is a terrifying sight when angry, picking up Link, shouting at him and shaking him. The face of the Happy Mask Salesman is a mask of something demented, making the player uneasy. Moreover, the souls of dead creatures were what created the masks Link used. The Deku, the Goron, the Zora - they're all harvested by Link for use in his adventures. When Link puts on these particular masks, the transformation that occurs looks painful.
Majora's Mask is a spooky video game because it managed to take the classic, brighter feeling that people came to expect, and do a 180 degree turn on that formula. There wasn't the standard quest of killing Ganondorf, saving Zelda and protecting the triforce. It was stopping the moon from crashing down and killing hundreds of people. The doom of a petrifying moon creeping closer each day is alarming for the citizens of Termina. When the player sees people panicking in their last hours of life, it has much more of an emotional impact.