3 out of 5
Moreso than any previous Boss Fight Books book, Gabe Durham’s entry on Majora’s Mask reads like a conversation. That’s fitting, as the main theme Durham explores regarding the game is how it can be interpreted, and how that matches (or doesn’t) with the reality of its production. This isn’t a compare and contrast, though, but rather a think piece on “open texts” and “closed texts” – open to interpretation or with a set read to them – and how games, and perhaps especially Majora, lie on an axis between story and mechanics, and thus balanced between those modes. Given Majora’s interesting structure – a repeating timeline loop – Durham isn’t as beholden to following the game’s narrative to structure his book, but does follow the Boss Fight methodology of looking at the different pieces (design, graphics, music, etc.) and how they reflect the whole; in doing so, he remains very focused on game directors Eiji Aonumas and Yoshiaki Koizumi, which smartly works with jumping back and forth between the various fan theories regarding the game’s meaning versus the creators’ intentions, and carries through up to the 3DS remake of the game, quite justifying that Majora is still a unique entry in the Zelda series even today.
The conversational aspect works in the sense that it makes Durham’s book an easy, enjoyable read, but it also holds it back from necessarily feeling revelatory or too deep. As Boss Fight authors are ought to do, Gabe sometimes reaches for references that don’t always feel relevant, but just come up because he likes X movie or Y book – again, just like talking to a friend. Similarly, he outright quotes conversations, including his own responses, instead of working their points into the text; this is – literally, I guess – very “chatty,” and further relegated the book to a casual, one time read.