The Legend of Zelda has a tried and true formula that makes for a sure hit each and every time it is revisited.
But when a game wildly deviates from that formula AND is deemed worthy by Nintendo’s standards to don the Zelda name, then something truly special is at hand. The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask isn’t just a different kind of Zelda game; it’s an entirely different game that happens to have Zelda characters in it. This could have been a completely separate Nintendo project with a new IP and it would have been great, but because it has Zelda characters in it, it makes it just that much more awesome. The whole thing makes you wish Nintendo would take risks with their established franchises more often.
With all that said, The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D is a remake of the Nintendo 64 game released back in the year 2000. 15 years later and the game is still fun and still very eerie — there’s just something about the art style that’s super unsettling. A character named Skull Kid has taken control of Majora’s Mask and, with its power, directed the moon to crash directly on to Termina, which is an alternate universe of sorts to the famed land of Hyrule. The giant, doom-impending moon is constantly grinning at you as you play and it’s approaching closer and closer throughout the story. Judge for yourself if the moon’s face does or doesn’t creep you out.
This game along with Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate are the first two games released in North America with the New 3DS in mind and having the extra thumbstick to control the camera is a huge plus for a game that focuses so much on angles and discovery. This is a surefire way for Nintendo to make their case that the New 3DS is the way to go and I wholeheartedly agree. The 3D effects and bumped up graphics for the 15 year old game is also noteworthy and surely makes this the definitive version of the game. Let’s not talk about the broken version released on GameCube a few years back.
Traditional Zelda style has a young boy discover he may be a hero and slowly learns to fulfill that destiny one piece of equipment at a time. Though the game does borrow the same gameplay template established in previous title, Ocarina of Time, Majora’s Mask doesn’t follow this trend. This is one of the few Zelda direct sequels and Link (or whatever name you choose to give him) is already in his green garb ready to take on a new adventure. This tone of expecting players to know what they’re doing is set right away, which in turn makes the challenge a bit high. Newcomers should be aware this is not an entry-level Zelda game.
Like with other Zelda titles, there are dungeons in Majora’s Mask, which has a disappointingly 4 total, but still makes for a 20 hour game (more if you’re bad like me). One of two things that set Majora’s Mask uniquely apart from the rest is the Mask system being the central role in getting through the game. Link acquires various masks and he can switch to these masks on the fly to accommodate for any given situation. There are 24 masks total and each mask has different powers, such as rolling with the Goron mask or launching yourself in floating, helicopter fashion with the Deku mask. These masks also work for some clever puzzle portions in the game – a simple one being use of the Deku form to fool the Dekus into thinking you’re one of them. Boss battles are each very well-thought-out and will have you on your toes to use your masks in epic battles.
The other big thing is that there is a constant timer ticking throughout your play and it is counting down to when the moon crashes onto Termina. The end of the world is coming in 72 hours and in our time, this equals to just under an hour of play. This means it’s always time to focus as any wasted time could potentially screw you over. This magnifies the pressure of not getting stumped on a puzzle, especially when you know you’re close to the end of a quest. Playing the Song of Time on the Ocarina will reset the time, but this will reset your progression, except for key items obtained and main objectives completed. There is a deep satisfaction when you complete something major under the time limit and resetting the timer back to 72 hours. On the flip side, it’s eternally frustrating when you run out of time.
The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D is a great rendition of a Zelda classic, but some of its shortcomings still ring true today. The game is very tough and requires lots of time management considering the internal clock system. The game is also a bit unforgiving at times when you’re forced to reset the clock, because you took a bit too long on a puzzle that was pretty cryptic to solve. I’ll admit that I got stuck a few times and had to use a guidebook and I can honestly say that there are some portions I feel I would have never figured out. That means the game just doesn’t hit that perfect balance of challenge and good use of intuition as it should. Nonetheless, the few misses should by all means not stop players from enjoying this fascinating and interesting world built in the Legend of Zelda universe.Review copy of this game was provided by the the publisher for the purpose of this review.
The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D is a great remake of a game that's full of character and absurd storytelling. The game may be a bit more hardcore than your average Zelda title, but more of this is what die-hard Zelda fans urge for.