Zelda is one of the most iconic franchises of gaming, and of pop-culture in general. If you don’t know what this franchise is about, you’ve probably gotten many looks of disbelief from your gamer friends.
On the other hand, if you’re a long-time Zelda fan and have grown up with the games, it’s hard not to get excited about The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D. When Nintendo remade Ocarina of Time for the 3DS, they got a lot of things right. The game was significantly more accessible, was easier to play in short bursts and had improved controls. Additions such as Sheikah stones giving you hints for solving puzzles and the ability to use the motion controller for shooting arrows were widely appreciated by gamers. So, has Nintendo done much of the same for Majora’s Mask 3D? To put it simply – yes, they have.
For the 3DS, Nintendo has stuck to the formula that made their previous remake successful. The game is designed to be playable in short bursts, and the difficulty curve has been changed to make the game more accessible to newcomers. Your quest log is now much more robust and grants you more detailed information. The pace of the game has been improved, with boss battles and songs now changing the way you control time in the game. For returning gamers, there are plenty of new items to collect in familiar places, ensuring that the game still feels fresh.
Majora’s Mask is a particularly interesting entry in the Zelda franchise. The story and the themes it touches on have been discussed by gamers for years. The symbolism of the afterlife, the poignant dialogue and moving story have granted it a special place in gamer’s hearts. A popular YouTube channel called The Game Theorists has dedicated multiple episodes to discussing the intricacies of Majora’s Mask.
As mentioned before is deep and complex. After the events in Ocarina of Time, Link finds himself in a strange land called Termina. You’ll come across a wide variety of unusual characters and events such as a masked salesman who sells cursed goods, phantom hands, giant ghosts indulging in tai chi and many others. But those aren’t even the most unsettling elements in the game. The single event that looms over the entire plot of the game is a moon which is literally falling out of the sky. You, as Link, are given 3 days to find an artifact which will allow you to save Termina from this horrible fate. The catch? You can use your Ocarina to literally rewind time and clear quests to free the four spirits which can help you save the world.
You have to travel to and from the four areas in the game repeatedly to make sure you collect all of the items you need to stop the moon from falling out of the sky. At any point in the game, you can play the Song of Time to reset proceedings back to Day 1. You won’t have too much time to spend idly admiring the surroundings, because there’s literally a ticking clock on your quest to save the world. The titular Majora’s Mask, and its wielder – the Skull Kid, are your main enemies in this game.
As is standard for Zelda games, you will be aided by a lot of different items and weapons during the game. So you’ll have your kit bag full of bombs and arrows and other nifty items. You’re also looking for masks the entire time. Masks give you several special abilities. The Great Fairy mask, for example, draws fairies to you and allows you to bag them without too much effort. A Blast Mask allows you to, well, blast things. There are masks which help you to run faster, jump higher, transform into other beings and yes, even dance. There’s a mask which teaches people dancing. Let that sink in for a moment. In most puzzles, having the right mask in your inventory is crucial.
When you’re not running to and fro collecting items for quests, you’ll be exploring dungeons. There are four major dungeons, housing the four spirits you need to liberate, and several smaller dungeons which grant you access to rare and powerful items. If you’ve been through a Zelda dungeon before, you know what to expect – you’ll make your way through a maze-like structure and solve puzzles on your way to a boss battle. Each boss fight will liberate one of the spirits you need on your side to quell the power of the Majora’s Mask. Beating a boss also grants you a nifty health increase. The boss fights themselves aren’t significantly easier, but will be more accessible to newer gamers because of the control scheme. Figuring out how a boss moves and what its weaknesses are is key to victory.
The actual combat in Majora’s Mask 3D is pretty straightforward. The left stick in combination with the buttons helps you to perform your stabbing, slashing and parrying. The shield and enemy selection is controlled by the shoulder buttons. And you will need to lock on to enemies, especially the more elusive ones which leap away and crawl onto ceilings.
What I liked:
There are a lot more save points scattered around the world map, which make life in Termina significantly easier. You can teleport to any of the save points you’ve activated by using the Song of Soaring. If you want to speed up time, the Song of Double Time now lets you move to whichever time you choose within the same day. Your inventory is now much easier to manage, since the bottom of the 3DS screen shows all of the gear and items you have. Being able to swap items in and out easily as you move through the game is extremely convenient. The game runs smoothly on older models of the 3DS, but the latest 3DS console has a few undeniable benefits, not the least of which is the ability to change the camera angle on the fly. If you’ve been stuck in a tight corner during one of Link’s many boss battles, this ability will come as a godsend.
Majora’s Mask 3D brings back all of the quirkiness and beauty of the original, while adding a few things to make the experience more enjoyable on modern consoles. The puzzles and battles are still challenging, but the addition of save points and interface improvements make them more manageable. In its latest incarnation, Majora’s Mask is still a classic which offers many hours of thought-provoking fun.