The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D

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Posted February 15, 2015 by in 3DS
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Rating

Score
 
 
 
 
 

4/ 5

Overview

Platform:
 
Developer: Nintendo/Grezzo
 
Publisher: Nintendo
 
Release Date: 13/02/2015
 

Is this the new definitive version of the under-appreciated Nintendo 64 classic?

by James Day
Full Article
Following up on The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time in the year 2000, Nintendo wisely decided against rehashing what is widely regarded as one of the best and most important video games ever made and took a hard-right turn with the series. The result was Majora’s Mask, the second and final Zelda adventure for the Nintendo 64 and one of the most under-appreciated in the franchise.

Spinning off of the unexpectedly dark final seconds of Ocarina, Majora sends Link to Termina, a land plagued with various calamities which appears to be just 72 hours away from Armageddon. Discovery the ability to rewind to the start of this three day period by playing the Song of Time, our mute hero is tasked with manipulating time in order to heal the land and its people, and stopping the skull kid possessed by the sinister Majora’s Mask.

Even back in 2000 when Zelda games weren’t afraid of the occasional swerve (see the side-scrolling The Adventures of Link or the surreal Link’s Awakening for proof of that), Majora left a huge impression on those who really dug into it. It presented themes that are still rarely broached in medium, including identity, death and healing. Its three day cycle enabled the developers to create intricate schedules and tasks for the citizens of Termina and, in combination with a greater emphasis on quests outside of the typical Zelda dungeons, allowed for a believable and ongoing world with a large cast of memorable and developed characters.

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There’s so much to be said about the game that I couldn’t even fit in much mention of the masks, which gives Link all sorts of new powers and even the ability to assume the role of other characters from other races.

These mould-breaking design choices could often result in frustration. Failing a quest could lead to the somewhat annoying process of having to reset the three day cycle then skipping forward to the correct time in order to retry it. Repeating certain tasks and waiting around for specific events to occur are also not exactly what you would associate with ‘fun’ moment-to-moment video game entertainment.

However, to quote the brilliant Jeremy Parish, Majora’s Mask ‘asks much, but so too does it give equally.’ It’s probably the most difficult Zelda to pick up and play, as it takes a few hours to get to grips with its mechanics and understand why it does what it does. Persevere with it and you’ll come away realising why many consider it to be one of the most daring, touching and memorable video games Nintendo’s ever created.

Much like the handheld remastering of Ocarina of Time in 2011, I didn’t expect a huge amount of changes to be made or elements to be added for Majora’s Mask 3D. Much like the proceeding remake, it features a similar graphical overhaul and a revamping of controls to account for the change of platform. Nintendo and co-developer Grezzo did a sterling job in these areas, delivering impressive 60FPS visuals that largely stay true to the spirit of the original and controls that improve the flow of the game.

Unfortunately, as was also the case with Ocarina 3D, this is not the perfect remaster. There are several aspects of Majora’s Mask 3D which either would’ve benefited from additional work or have been changed for the worse.

Mirroring the approach taken with Ocarina 3D, the developers have once more refrained from remastering the game’s music, choosing to provide the same Nintendo 64 midi tracks you may or may not remember from the year 2000. Again, this feels like a big missed opportunity. Having heard Koji Kondo’s wonderful compositions performed with real instrumentation, it is a real shame that Nintendo and Grezzo continue to leave the music untouched in these 3DS remasters.

The biggest changes in Majora’s Mask 3D are the four primary boss fights. Each has been significantly remixed, seemingly with the intention of making the encounters easier yet more prolonged. Each now makes use of giant eyeballs, similar in design to the ones seen on Majora’s Mask, acting as giant, blatantly obvious weak spots. For a game that is generally more complex and challenging than most Zelda titles, this somewhat condescending move feels really out of place.

There are lots of other, smaller tweaks that are thankfully not as baffling. Added shortcuts, non-intrusive hints and rearranged item placement helps cut down on some instances of backtracking and narrow the chance of players missing out on some important game mechanics.

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Majora 3D also adds 360 degree camera control on the analogue nub on the just-released New 3DS and the Circle Pad Pro for the standard 3DS. The game was not originally designed for it, so I never felt the need to use it.

That said, there are a few changes for the worse. The most frustrating one I came across was the change in location of the invisible solider who gives you the stone mask. Upon finally discovering him, I can see why the developers moved him to where they did. However, they removed a crucial environmental hint, meaning that unless you just happen to be randomly using the Lens of Truth item or you know exactly where to look you probably won’t find him.

While Ocarina of Time 3D added a boss rush mode and the opportunity to play with the pre-existing remixed Master Quest dungeon layouts, the only significant new content in Majora 3D is the addition of an Ocarina of Time-style fishing mini-game. Two new original fishing holes have been placed in Termina, offering a huge array of fish to be caught. However, having finished the game with all the masks and the majority of heart pieces, there doesn’t seem to be any obvious incentive for spending the time to catch them all.

Ultimately, Majora’s Mask 3D, as with Ocarina of Time 3D, fails at becoming the new definitive version of a Nintendo 64 classic. Those handful of head-scratching design decisions, the lack of meaningful new content, and the diminished sense of both immersion and cinematic scope due to being on the small screen holds the game back from being the perfect remaster.

However, be it in Nintendo 64 or 3DS form, Majora’s Mask is absolutely worth your time. It’s one of those games that I simply can’t do justice to in the scope of a review, especially without giving away potentially game-ruining spoilers. While it may not have as much impact on newcomers today as it did with those playing in the simpler time of its original release, it’s a brilliant, bold and sometimes bizarre adventure that you’ll likely never forget.


About the Author

James Day
James Day

Citizen James.