A Swim to Remember

POSTED ON:  July 1, 2023 

by: Charles (VehkSketch)

Where would I take a vacation if I could transport myself to a location from the beloved Legend of Zelda series? I've always had one specific place I'd prefer to go to: Great Bay from Majora's Mask. After 23 years, the release of 14 mainline games since Majora's Mask, even after experiencing the beauty of locations in Breath of the Wild, this answer has never changed.

My fascination with Great Bay, and Majora's Mask in general began over the summer of 2001, funnily enough, during a vacation of sorts. That year my parents planned to leave town for a weekend in August. While they were gone I was going to spend three days at my aunt and uncle's house. I had gone there many times before, so I wasn't exactly thrilled to go. Spending time there did have some positives in my mind, however. My two older cousins were fun to be around, I could look forward to a pool, plus my cousins not only had a Nintendo 64, but a Playstation 2 also.

Regardless, I felt a little left out that I didn't get to go somewhere new and cool. Big sis got to go to summer camp with her friends, now my parents were also going off somewhere; meanwhile, I was going to be stuck in the same city, in the same old familiar places. "Being five sucks!" I thought, as I dejectedly plopped myself into my bed on the night before my parents were leaving. I recall saying that a lot over that summer.

Dawn of the First Day

I woke up awfully earlier than I was accustomed to the next morning. My parents had already packed the car the evening prior, so we swiftly departed to the neighborhood adjacent to our own. That short 5 minute drive was one I became familiarized with for holidays and family events. I knew the scenery along those streets so well that I barely had a desire to look outside of the car, yet I still looked out the window in the hopes that I would see something interesting. I clutched my Pikachu plush, letting my imagination wander. There was no doubt I saw Mew flying in the sky that morning, I was also sure that out in the distance, faintly, I heard Saria's Song beckoning me to some far away forest. 

The backdrop to those wonders was a pretty mediocre sight – typical American suburbia. We weaved between streets, passing rows of houses that were barren of signs of life that early in the day. Before I knew it we were turning onto a cul-de-sac and into the driveway of my destination. My aunt and uncle warmly greeted us and took my suitcase, my parents gave me hugs and kisses, and they departed.

My aunt urged me to get some extra rest, and showed me where the spare room was. I was a little tired, but the eagerness for the day to really begin so I could go play and swim in the pool outside made it hard to fall back to sleep. After a few hours I got up for breakfast hoping that my cousins would be awake by now. To my dismay, I found out they had spent the night with a group of friends and wouldn't be coming home until Saturday afternoon. At that moment all hope that I would have a fun weekend was sucked out of me. 

The rest of that day was spent playing outside with the toys I brought with me, and swimming in the pool. In the afternoon my uncle put in a VHS tape for me to watch while dinner was being prepared. That first day I watched The Land Before Time, which was quite literally a movie from before my time, likely a relic from when my cousins were my age. The day concluded with dinner, and afterwards my aunt let me play a game on the Playstation 2 called Dark Cloud. I remember being really interested in it because the main character resembled Link, but I struggled to make much progress in the game by the time I had to go to bed.

Dawn of the Second Day

Absolute boredom had enveloped me, I felt I had already done everything I could possibly do within the first day, all that was left would be more of the same. So I spent the majority of the day lazing around on the couch in the den watching television, and that afternoon I watched The Lion King. Shortly after the movie ended my cousins arrived, which excited me – finally things could really kick off! 

All of that excitement melted away when they introduced me to a friend they invited over. They told me they were planning to play a new video game on the Nintendo 64 and that I should join them. I was extremely shy back then, as much as I loved video games, I was standing petrified just outside of the room they gathered into. In the end, I darted away to the room I was staying in. I picked up my Pikachu, wrapping the plush in my arms, and began pacing around the room to figure out what I was going to do. I wanted to see the game they were playing, but that'd mean I'd have to be around that new person, and what if they turned out to not be cool?

Little by little I made my way out of the spare room, down the hall, and eventually next to the room again, which was close to the foyer. Hanging on the wall in the foyer just near the front door was a Big Mouth Billy Bass. It was supposed to activate when people walked by it, but I was too short for the sensor to work. Still indecisive on what I was going to do, I stretched to press the button to activate the fish. It cycled between singing two songs, but every time I pressed the button I liked to imagine it might sing something different.

I could hear the audio of the game my cousins and their friend were playing, and my curiosity at the sounds had finally suppressed my shyness somewhat. I made my way to the door and cracked it a bit to peek inside. They were all blocking the front of the TV, so I couldn't see what was going on. I quietly entered the room trying to scope a spot I could get a view of the TV from. I had no choice but to stand near the friend of my cousins. 

What I found myself watching was Link riding Epona through a field. "Ocarina of Time!" I initially thought to myself. This was different from the game I was familiar with though. Link was a child, riding pony Epona through a field I had never seen before. My cousin had the controller and was leading Link towards a sandy part of the field, there was a fence that Epona jumped over leading to a pathway to a new area. "Great Bay," I read aloud. I could feel my heart racing with wonder as Link approached a shoreline and dismounted Epona. 

"Look, there's seagulls circling above a spot ahead," my cousin observed, finally taking his eyes off the screen to look at us all with a smile. He was older than me, but younger than my other cousin. "Let's see what's out there," he said, extending out the controller to me. My eyes lit up, I took the controller and swam Link out to where the seagulls were gathered. There we met a mysterious Zora who asked to be brought to shore. I positioned Link to push him out of the water and watched in awe of the cutscene that followed. This Zora named Mikau pulled out a guitar from thin air and began to sing!

"OHHHHH" and "BABYYYY" were cries forever etched into our minds. My cousin taught me the Song of Healing so Link could put Mikau's regretful soul to rest. We all wanted nothing more than to continue playing the game, but dinner was ready so we had to stop for the time being. With the game paused, the friend of my cousins noticed my Pikachu plush. "I love Pikachu," he remarked. I asked him what his other favorite Pokémon were, and I found out he liked many of the same ones that I did – this guy was cool in my book.

After dinner we all took turns swapping who played Majora's Mask as we explored the secrets Great Bay offered. We went to Zora's Hall and met the members of the Indigo-Go's. We infiltrated the Pirate's lair and found some of Lulu's eggs, the Longshot, as well as learning about Pinnacle Rock. We then brought the eggs to the Professor at the Marine Research Lab. To end the night we compared the transformation masks to decide which was the best. We all agreed the Zora's Mask was by far the coolest.

Dawn of the Final Day

As soon as I awoke I hopped out of bed to get breakfast. I was happy to see that my cousins and their friend were also awake and eager for the day. As we played in the pool we imagined we were Zora speedily swimming through the water. We weren't in the backyard anymore, we were at Great Bay. Those few hours in the pool were the most fun I had that entire weekend.

The movie for that afternoon was one my cousins rented from Blockbuster. We made popcorn and watched Pokémon 3 the Movie: Spell of the Unown. After the movie ended we played more Majora's Mask as we waited for dinner. We discovered the beavers, collected the rest of the Zora Eggs and learned the New Wave Bossa Nova. The last thing I got to see that day was a bit of the beginning of Great Bay Temple.

Dawn of a New Day, and a New Era

It was with a heavy heart that I had to depart when my parents arrived home that Monday. That weekend went from having little potential for fun, to being the most fun it could've possibly been. Although the entire time I was only about a mile away from my own home, I always had something to make me feel that I was elsewhere: I was Link exploring Ocarina of Time’s Hyrule, or discovering the prehistoric era with Little Foot and the gang. I danced through the jungle with Simba, Timon and Pumbaa, and rode Entei through the air. But most captivating of all was being a Zora swimming through the waters of Great Bay. I left my aunt and uncle's home excited to tell my parents of all the cool new things I experienced, and to ask if we could get our own copy of Majora's Mask

I would go on to have many other memorable vacations, but none were as formative as that weekend in 2001. I got a little less afraid to talk to new people, which was a good thing since things were about to change drastically for me only a few weeks later when I started Kindergarten. However, the stand out thing of that weekend was playing Majora's Mask because it solidified to me that The Legend of Zelda was my favorite video game series by far. Majora's Mask would go on to become my favorite video game too – and for years to come everytime I went to a pool, a beach, saw a palm tree or a turtle, briefly my mind would wander to thoughts of Great Bay.

If I could really go there I would be ecstatic. Although, in a sense I've already been there, so I'd be happily revisiting.