The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D Review

Released back in 2000, The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask was a direct sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, a game that helped usher in a new era of action RPGs and is considered by many to be the one of the best games ever created. Unfortunately, due to its appearance towards the end of the Nintendo 64’s lifecycle, Majora’s Mask was never able to fully grasp the same success as its predecessor. Thankfully, Nintendo is giving it a second shot at life by re-issuing the title on the 3DS. Has Link’s most wood-filled adventure stood the test of time? Let’s find out…

Whilst trekking through the woods, Link loses his horse and is transformed into a Deku shrub before being unwittingly drawn into the bizarre alternate world of Termina. Upon arrival, Link learns he has 72 hours to stop the moon from crashing into the world and thus he sets off on an adventure to stop that from happening. Fortunately, his ‘Hero of Time’ status still remains from the original title, allowing him to manipulate the flow of time and reset the 72 hour window as many times as required to fulfil his destiny.

Majora’s Mask is one of the most polarising entries in the Legend of Zelda series, as it changed the core focus of the game from the epic ‘quest to save the world for evil’ trope and replaced it with a smaller scale, more personal narrative – it’s still about saving the world of course, but not on such a grand scale as series stalwarts are used to. There is a lesser focus on the puzzle-filled dungeons that have graced the series in the past. Instead, they have made the world and the characters within it the motivation behind the adventure.

The game features the typical action adventure gameplay Zelda fans love. Players are given an array of weapons and are able to use them to solve a range of puzzles, explore various regions and kill some massive bosses at the end of each of the game’s dungeons. However, the unique twist to Majora’s Mask is its masks.

There are three core masks that allow Link to transform into different forms with enhanced abilities; The Deku Scrub, which can shoot bubbles, skip across the water and hover; a lumbering Goron, which can unleash powerful melee attacks, is immune to fire and can roll around at high speed; and a Zora, which explores underwater and can swim at high speed. In addition to the main masks, there is an assortment of other, more superfluous masks that can be collected through side-quests. Although there are a few useful masks, such as the bunny hood that increases Link’s run speed, most of these additional masks can only be used in very specific circumstances, such as talking to a certain NPC or other side-quest related shenanigans.

Each of the core masks and the associated abilities have been worked into the title’s gameplay and exploration nicely, whilst also playing a major role in the various puzzles scattered throughout the game’s dungeons. This focus on additional abilities as well as Link’s equipment makes the dungeons much more challenging than they would have been otherwise. Although there are fewer of these dungeons included in Majora’s Mask than any of Link’s other adventures, the puzzles and general level designs are among some of the trickiest in the series to date.

Another mechanic that separates Majora’s Mask from other Zelda titles is that time is limited and the whole adventure takes place across a three day cycle, which takes about an hour to roll through. Reach the end of the three days and the moon will impact and destroy the planet. Fortunately, Link has the ability to rewind time using his ocarina, which will place him back on day one again. This gives players a fresh start, allowing them to retain any weapons, masks or key quest items that have been obtained, but removes any acquired money, ammunition or consumable items (unless you have stored them in the Clocktown bank).

For its time the game was incredibly intricate. Every NPC in the game has his or her own schedule that plays out over the course of the three day cycle. Most NPCs will have a side-quest or some kind of significance to Link’s journey through Termina, and your new and improved Bombers Notebook (a.k.a Quest Log) will automatically store information and hints about the world’s inhabitants as you come across them.

Termina, the setting for Majora’s Mask, bares a good amount of familiarity to The Ocarina of Time due to some recycled assets and audio. The world itself is slightly larger than the previous title and is comprised of the large central city of Clocktown and an assortment of various surrounding environs, which include the usual deserts, snowscapes and water-themed areas that the Zelda titles seem to love visiting. Perhaps the most notable thing about Majora’s Mask is that Termina is a dreary place and no matter where Link goes, the game’s atmosphere feels heavy. There’s just something kind of eerie and disturbing about the way the world’s inhabitants go about their daily lives, blissfully unaware of the menacing moon overhead.

The reissue has undergone a number of changes that have invigorated the gameplay somewhat. The game’s quest log has undergone a huge overhaul to bring it in line with today’s standards, making the abundance of side-quests significantly easier to track and undertake than previously. The song Link can use to travel forward in time now allows you to pick a specific time of day rather than shifting time forward to the start/end of a day, which also aids in the completion of specific side-quests that are time sensitive. Other great additions include the use of gyroscopic controls in first-person view to look around the environment and aim projectile weapons, as well as the use of the touch screen to manage Link’s ever growing inventory.

Unfortunately, there are still a lot of things that will irk players with the remake. Firstly the game has a large focus on side-questing and although most of it is optional, many of the cooler items can only be acquired through meticulously managing your time or hanging out to wait for a specific NPC to do something. Of course, the most irritating character in the Legend of Zelda history, Tingle, was first introduced in Majora’s Mask, and yep, he’s still in the remake. Perhaps the worst part of the entire experience is having to watch his introductory scene every, damn, time… without even the option to skip it. Additionally, moving the 3DS device around with the gyro controls to free aim is a nice touch… as long as you don’t need to be super accurate with projectiles, as those with shaky hands will find it difficult to keep on target (fortunately this can be turned off in the options).

Majora’s Mask 3D is a fantastic trip down memory lane. The game is as gloomy and entertaining as it was back when it was originally launched, and the addition of new features to simplify the gameplay and assist in progression is a welcome addition. If you didn’t have the opportunity to play this on the Nintendo 64, you ought to pick it up for the 3DS. Not only will you find one of the more unique entries in the Legend of Zelda series, you’ll also find a touching story about a young boy who spends 72 hours rubbing hard wood all over his face to save the world…

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