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I'd bet another reason there weren't permanent save points was so you couldn't restart from a particular point of time in a 3-day cycle over and over. If you screwed up a timeline and, say, let Marin get abducted, you had to restart the whole cycle over instead of just reloading from 2 minutes earlier. It might be frustrating, but it's also believable within the story and adds the feeling of pressure and doom to everything you do - and MM is all about pressure and doom.

Still, forcing a player to replay a whole bunch just because they screwed up one minigame... it could feel really frustrating. I guess it's the same thing with Roguelikes and perma-death.
I wouldn't say that particular case is too frustrating because it's not actually that hard to return to that point. Although other sidequests that are much more involved like the Keifa one could be a bit annoying if, say, you mess up the very last part.

In fact, I think this game does that well, making you feel like your actions really matter because they are not as easily changeable as reloading from minutes ago. But if the game crashes and I have to redo an entire pre-dungeon/dungeon segment, that's real frustration. >:(
Read the full article, that was a REALLY good read. I've been so focused on the story aspect of my game I haven't given a moments thought to the game play aspect. Truth is I don't know what I am gonna do on that subject... But this has definitely helped! A very good read indeed!
So, here's a question that's secretly relevant to what I'm doing at the moment...

Would the time limit in Majora's Mask be considered challenging or frustrating? It's clearly stated and the game makes no attempts to screw you with it, but if you're kinda slow at making your way through a dungeon, it could come off as a cheap way of adding difficulty, imposed by an artificial limit.

I think the key here is that the 3-day limit is that the game doesn't lie to you at all. You are explicitly told how much time you have left, at all times. Despite being an artificial limit, it's one that adds to the gameplay and the mood. Tetris is the same way. If the game didn't get faster the longer you played, there will be much less challenge and the targeted skill level would be lower. Like LockeZ said, I think this is a difference between frustration due to cheap mechanics and frustration due to your own (lack of) skill.

In general with time limits, it depends on how it's implemented.

The Castlevania series has a time system that actually dictates the ending. As in, you spend too long the ending will suck. Final Fantasy series (and others) has circumstantial time limits which result in gameover. Either of these add challenge without being frustrating. I'm not sure if the Oni Island (it only appears for one night supposedly) part of Okami was timed but this might have been a nice way to add challenge.

And then you have Breath of Fire Dragon Quarter. You have to hunt for save coins (super-rare, making the whole game obnoxious if you die), and when you use your dragon form, the game basically screws you over, setting a limit to finish the game. Since I haven't played it (customer reviews dissuaded me), I initially thought it was a time limit, but it seems to be a meter based on dragon form use. In either case, having a global limit of some sort that gameovers you permanently is pretty unacceptable.
What I hate is when a game has a part that must be beaten within a time limit, but introduces a new mechanic at the same time (and sometimes even let the timer run while showing text explaining the mechanic).
the thing about Majora's Mask and its time limit is that it isn't really a time limit so much as a solid schedule of events that just happens to go for three days. the game gives you enough control over its flow (and has enough going on during its three-day schedule) that it never felt like a limitation to me.

this does mean that there isn't a huge feeling of urgency after you've figured the game out, but the first couple of cycles are really nicely tense.
Was Built From Pixels Up
I'm with mawk; MM wasn't a time limit. It gave you time limits to do specific things, sure, but because of the repeating nature you could be aware well in advance of what was going to happen when, where to be, what to do, and have multiple other options besides that.
I like the word "schedule" for it more than timer, as mawk says.

Although I do agree that some of the longer/more complicated side-quests could totally twist my balls if I missed something or showed up late (or too early...) and knew I couldn't try again without resetting the clock, I at least knew that I wasn't just stuck in a cycle of doing this same mission over again until I got it right. It was more than possible to go "ah, fuck it; I'll go do a dungeon or w/e, and try this quest again after the next rewind", which is what it all boils down to imo.
RMN's Official Reviewmonger
I don't think MM's 3-day cycle is really for challenge OR frustration. The time they give you is generous enough that you can get done the things you need to and rewind before it's too late without fail. Heck, time doesn't even pass when you're holding the ocarina, so saving can be instantaneous.

The system could lead to frustration if you weren't able to finish a dungeon or something before time expired, but a lot of that is really just the player's fault. You know you have three days. You know you can save "anytime" by playing the Song of Time. The owl statues let you warp almost anywhere instantly, so if you run out of time for what you're doing, you should've had the foresight not to jump in with so little time left. Granted, you can only save tangible rewards in that game, but that's the only way the time limit affects the game in the first place.

That leaves the time-sensitive side quests, which are just that: SIDE quests, completely optional. For that reason, and the added variants of the Song of Time that let you manipulate how fast/slow the days go by, I think the game is balanced around that mechanic very well.
...but guys, playing "I wanna be the Guy" on impossible mode is fun.
meisam your not using semicolon properly, and that's a laughing matter.
i just say my personal opinion of what frustrate me

out of battle: mini games after mini games without any way to skip them, placing puzzles where they dose not belong (a maze that is placed in a man made building just for the heck of it), waiting for an NPC to get out of your way .having a choice BTW 10 character, when all of them do the same thing or only 4 of them can be considered. flashing window when i am receiving damage or one of my character is poisoned. a puzzle that ask trivial matters like name of the city.

in battle: miss (both way) :|, random surprised attack (both way), complete random behavior of an enemy (casting heal when his hp is full :|), when the only useful option is using attack command, when damage is a random number BTW 50-100 and my total health is 100, when there is no way that a high defense character can protect a low defense character (against most attacks not all of them) forcing me to equip full plate armor (or other equipment with highest defense) on everyone.
are these are some at same? more chalange is more intresting and so on...
but this is my opinion...
My name's Toby. Yeh... Yeah.. YEAH!!!!
I prefer to make my game easy, but interesting. LOL..
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