Developer: Nintendo EAD Tokyo, Grezzo
Review Context: I am a longtime Zelda fan who has played most of the games, with my favorite being the original The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask for Nintendo 64.
Date of Playthrough: August 2015
Originally on the Nintendo 64, The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask was the sequel to the The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, and the second 3D Zelda game. When the enhanced 3DS version was announced I was ecstatic to see the overhaul they could do, since the Ocarina of Time 3D remake was gorgeous and revitalized the game. The thing I was skeptical of was the Ocarina of Time 3D remake had given too many handouts. The Sheikah stones originally used for short little talks were turned into in-game tutorial segments for different parts of the game. My main concern going into The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D was, will it be better than its original?
The best part of the original Majora’s Mask is probably the same thing you will hear numerous amounts of times; the story and world. Skull Kid has stolen the Majora’s Mask and has caused despair over the land of Termina, destroying many people’s lives as if it was a joke. From Clock Town, to Ikana Valley, to the Great Bay, every area of Termina has been deeply affected by Skull Kid’s malice, which creates not only a compelling main story, but numerous side quests as well. The main story involves helping each land come to peace after Skull Kid has let loose several monsters in the temples sealing four great giants. It delves deeply into the internal struggle of its characters far better than previous Zelda games. The fairy Tatl is by far a more interesting character than Navi from the previous installment and more useful. Instead of being an annoyance, Tatl has both an endearing personality, a story to be invested in, and is helpful without going overboard. That being said, the bread and butter is within its side quests.
The side quests have never felt better to coordinate and complete. The Bombers’ Notebook used to keep track of everything keeps up to date better than the previous game. This allows you to more easily figure out timelines, as everything is kept in a timetable and any quest mentioned will be recorded. The Bombers also give out hints to various different quests not usually found along the way so you can go out and look for them. You can even have Tatl be an alarm clock for certain side quests in order to keep track of what you need to do at a certain time. Now the side quests have not been changed from their original design, as there wasn’t a need to change such unique quests. The Search for Kafei, the House in Ikana Valley, the Skull Houses, the Alien Abduction, all of these great side quests are what makes this game such an enjoyable experience to complete it all. The rewards for completing such quests are just as special though; the masks.
Majora’s Mask is not the only mask in the game. There are many masks one can collect during their journey. There are many masks that are basically used to further a side quest or just to be a reward for hard work. The main masks used in the game are those that have their own unique controls to make the gameplay more complex. You can become a Deku scrub and submerge yourself in the Deku flowers to propel yourself in the air and hover. This element is used more frequently in this game as some areas, including the first boss fight, have incorporated more Deku flowers for different battle strategies and modes of travel. This makes the Deku scrub one of the most entertaining masks of the game. The Goron mask is meant to be a tank; moving slow but dealing more damage. You can curl up into a ball and roll to get up steep inclines and once you reach a certain speed you gain spikes. Now this is by far the most unruly of the transformation masks, as the speed of the roll can easily have you rebounding off walls and to your doom, and there is still a lag to stopping oneself. The Goron transformation is a niche one and most certainly will test your patience. Lastly, the Zora transformation is one best utilized in water, as they are the mermen/mermaids of this world. That being said, in the previous game the controls for swimming underwater were quite hard to maintain, as it often forced you to go one fast speed. That being said, in Majora’s Mask 3D it was fixed so that they have that mode of fast swimming, not the regular speed, but merely a short boost used with magic. This allows for more concise control over the swimming, if only the dive and ascend controls didn’t jerk you around and slow momentum of the game they would’ve perfected it.
The regular controls are the same as those in the Ocarina of Time 3D. The L-targeting system still allows one to focus in on the fight, but allows enough drawback to see their immediate surroundings. Many enemies, especially the bosses have a better focus with the L-targeting than the original, as all the bosses have multiple ways to be destroyed, allowing for more versatility to each fight. There are more immediate items in the shortcut menu than the original, not forcing one to stop and re-equip the item necessary as often. The map system is often on the bottom screen, allowing for some battles to be easier, as some side quests show the surrounding enemies and allowing you to keep track of your surroundings. None of the regular controls were tampered with and the game gives us numerous locations in which to fully utilize them. The only control changed, much like the Ocarina of Time 3D, is the motion controls for aiming ranged weaponry. At times it is quite on point and more realistic to use, but it is not a perfect system. It will jolt to different directions at times if the calibration at points are off, which can be jarring when you are aiming at an immediate threat. All in all, it is a solid control system with little to no faults with it.
The most controversial aspect of the game, the 3 Day system, has an updated on screen display. Instead of only showing one day at a time it shows a bar cut into sections, giving us the exact time of day it is on to the second. This makes coordinating with the Bombers’ Notebook a lot easier. That being said, not much was tampered with. Everything that is consumable, side quest items, or a part of your weapons disappear after a reset, forcing you to redo everything all over again. For the rupees there is a way to save them, by handing them over to the banker before the redo, and all along the outside of Clock town is grasses that can easily replenish your arrows, bombs, and the like. Nothing is too tedious to do, as it is along the way to other destinations. It also brings a sense of nihilism to your goals, which thematically it is great, but could rub some the wrong way. Everything good you do for people resets and they fall back into misery which could be daunting. The song to speed up time has been switched into choosing a specific hour of the day to jump to, which gets rid of the waiting for events to happen and jump right into the action if you so desire. Saving is also not a chore, as you can save without quitting the game. You can save more frequently, which can be seen as handholding for most, but I feel since they are sporadic enough that it does not matter.
The aesthetic of the game has improved with little touches here and there. The lighting is not as dark as it used to be which is, at times, a double-edged sword. The atmosphere suffers slightly in some areas because of it, but it makes it some much easier to navigate, as they have carefully chosen several places where the darkness plays into the atmosphere so as to not be a hindrance. There are little changes to detail, like better animated flames around the Goron Link roll, or a spikeball around the hat of Deku scrub Link just to make them more appeasing to the eye. Other than little changes, nothing really seems different except for the graphic overhaul, much like Ocarina of Time 3D, except that it really complements the art direction of Majora’s Mask. The music is the same as before and everything else seems to just be an upgraded version.
The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D is a great remaster of the original and potentially one of the best remasters of all time. Bringing this terrific story to a new generation, Majora’s Mask 3D improves on almost all the faults of the original albeit the Goron controls. Oh and it adds in fishing, but it is too much of a forgettable addition that I even almost forgot to mention it. There is some weakness to the overall concept of the 3 Day system, but all in all, they’ve refined everything really well. I didn’t think I would be saying this, but this 3D remaster is most certainly better than the original.
Similar Games Liked:
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (Wii)
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (N64)
Similar Games Disliked:
The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks (DS)