by Chris Kelley
After what seemed like an eternity since the release of the Nintendo 64 remake “Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time: 3D,” Nintendo once again teamed up with Grezzo and finally delivered on one of the most divisive of Zelda games, “Majora's Mask 3D.” Fans of the Zelda series often disagree about the merits of this game citing time constraints and frustrations over the limited save feature as huge obstacles inhibiting the completion of dungeons and as result, the game. However, it is still one of the most beloved games in the series due to its darker, more emotional tone. Not long after releasing “Ocarina of Time: 3D,” Zelda fans began with their usual pattern of calling for the next game in the series. Fan petitions even formed into social media movements with fans creating Facebook pages such as Operation Moonfall, named after the falling moon theme of the game, to grab the attention of Nintendo by expressing the overwhelming support for a ‘Majora's Mask’ remake.
This time Nintendo had a real decision to make. Should they develop a new game in the series, or remaster a game that honestly, despite being arguably one of the best in the series and cult favorite, wasn't received as well overall as previous titles? Some fans argued for an HD remake on the Wii U console instead of a portable 3DS version. One dedicated group of anonymous fans even went as far as to develop their own HD trailer for the game, which was so convincing, many believed it to be made by Nintendo. Almost four years after “Ocarina of Time: 3D” hit stores, and a little over a year after Nintendo released the “Link the Past” sequel, “A Link Between Worlds,” they announced “The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D” which would soon be available to play on their newest version of the 3DS, the aptly named NEW Nintendo 3DS.
In “Majora's Mask: 3D,” players once again take control of their favorite Hylian hero, Link. This is the same Link that appeared in “Ocarina of Time: 3D,” where he is also known as the “Hero of Time.” The name takes on a new meaning as Link works to put right all the trouble caused by the mask wearing impish figure, the Skull Kid within a 72 hour time limit. The moon is falling on the land of Termina and the many of the residents wish to flee the land, while others choose to ignore the face of the looming moon which creeps closer every day. Using the mystical Ocarina of Time, Link relives the same three days, each time helping someone he might not have had time to help the last time.
The Skull Kid, the game's main antagonist, stole a very important item, Majora's Mask, from a traveling mask salesman in the woods. With it, he uses its dark power to play tricks on people. Link's main quest in the land of Termina is to put a stop to the falling moon, caused by the Skull Kid, which menacingly hovers over Clock Town, the land's central hub. The Skull Kid's tricks have affected nearly everyone in town and it is only by helping the townsfolk that Link will be able to put a stop to the imp's games. By helping townsfolk, Link is often rewarded with masks. Mask collecting is a very important as some of them have significant powers which help Link reach new areas and face new challenges.
Nintendo opted to change many things about this game including the dungeon boss mechanics, as well as streamlining some of the item collection. Link's precious item, The Ocarina of Time, which he uses to return to the first day again, has been given a significant upgrade which allows the player to travel forward to anytime of the day. This makes quite a difference as it can speed up the pace of the game so the player is always engaged rather than standing around waiting for townsfolk to become available at certain times. The graphics have had a huge overhaul, looking even better than “Ocarina of Time: 3D,” despite the fact that many of the game's character models originally come from that game. The sound, which keeps true to the original, has still been upgraded and sounds great on the 3DS. Playing “Majora's Mask: 3D” on the New 3DS is definitely the way Nintendo intended it to be. Making use of their new “Super Stable 3D,” which uses face tracking to deliver a beautiful 3D effect without the need for 3D glasses or having to view it from just the right sweet spot, Nintendo truly showed the fans how much they cared about delivering above expectations of their fans.
Many fans would have been happy to have the original Nintendo 64 game brought on the portable 3DS platform. Instead, Nintendo was secretly developing this game while many fans had given up hope it would ever be developed. It was revealed later that work actually had begun on “Majora's Mask: 3D” immediately after “Ocarina of Time: 3D” came out. Eiji Aonuma, the producer of “Majora's Mask: 3D” even left cryptic hints in “A Link Between Worlds,” the game Nintendo decided to develop and release while remaking “Majora's Mask.”
While I feel like most of the changes are for the good of the game, I can't help but feel a bit betrayed by the lack of consequences when you run out of time or lose all of your hearts in this game. In an effort to make this game more accessible to a wider range of players including those who were turned off originally by the game, Feather Statues have been added to make saving during your three day cycle less stressful. There are literally no consequences for running out of time on the 72 hour clock unless you forget to save at one of these statues. In the original game, it was only possible to save by resetting back to the first day or using an Owl Statue. Saves made at Owl statues were only temporary and your progress would not be saved if you ran out of time. Running out of time would send you back to the “Dawn of the First Day,” losing all of your progress since your last time travel. Doing so in “Majora's Mask: 3D” only sends you back to your last save point. It is great for what it is, accessible. However, as far as remaining true to the original and maintaining your sense of consequences and urgency, the game simply does not deliver. But the good thing is that Feather Statues are entirely optional so if you want to play hard mode or feel more like you are playing the original title, you can simply bypass them.
I've never played a game that has had such a memorable impact on my childhood as “Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask.” The characters have their own dreams and desires and many seem to always be on the go. As a child, it felt like I was really a part of this world as I could spend many hours roleplaying in the game and creating my own stories and adventures. One part of the remake I really enjoy, which may not have been an intended part of the game, but still adds even more enjoyment to this game, is sequence breaking. Using glitches or exploits to break the usual Zelda “go here, get this, then go there and do that” allows me to get items and access areas earlier than I'm supposed to. Since I like to role-play with this game, sequence breaking fits well within my play style. What I mean to say is, if I'm supposedly stuck in this endless three day cycle, I'm sure to pick a few tricks from observing the land and characters within. Sequence breaking was possible in the original game and I am very glad to see that, while maybe unintentional on Nintendo's part, I am still able to do this.
The 3DS version astounds me even more with how much cleaner it looks and plays. I recently took a look at the original Nintendo 64 classic and while I remember appreciating the graphics at the time, the low frame rate was a bit hard to bear. The 3DS version still has a hiccup or two in frame rate, although a recent patch claims to have remedied the problem. Playing Majora's Mask on the 3DS anywhere and anytime is a dream come true and now reliving that experience as an adult makes me feel like Link once again as I travel through Termina putting an end to the Skull Kid's tricks and making my own adventure at the same time.