Ninja Reviews: The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D

Majora’s Mask was an interesting installment in the Legend of Zelda series. Releasing two years after Ocarina of Time, the game had a much weirder and darker tone than it’s predecessor; any game in the Zelda franchise really. It was received to glowing reviews (although most gamers dismiss it due to “tedium of the time travel mechanic.”)  But it has always been my personal favorite, and what I believe to be the best in the franchise. Yes, better than Ocarina of Time (but that’s a story for another time.)

So naturally, and while I didn’t get on the hype train with all the rumors and speculation about Majora’s Mask in A Link Between Worldsand Aonuma acknowledging Operation Moonfall, you can pretty much guess that I jumped all over the 3D remake; it made me happy to see, I won’t lie.

I’ve spent a lot of time with Majora’s Mask 3D and I gotta say there’s a lot I like, and a few, extremely frustrating things I hate.

Much like it’s N64 counterpart, Majora’s Mask 3D is an amazing experience.I won’t get into it to much, because let’s face it, we all know the shitck. Link finds himself in the mysterious land of Termina, where the moon hangs low in the sky and will fall to the earth in 3 days. Link must travel to four temples and retrieve the cursed masks to free the guardians of the land and save the land from utter annihilation.

Much like Nintendo’s recent Wind Waker update, Majora’s Mask maintains the same core feel of it’s counterpart, while updating the visuals and tweaking some of the problems gamers had with the original.
And I mean they updated the visuals, the game looks beautiful. Like it’s 3D predecessor, Ocarina of Time, there’s so much in the way of little details (like, nicer textures, pictures and posters in houses and around the city, foliage and atmospheric lighting) that it just brings the game to life in a way the original couldn’t. Not to mention how all the character animations have been cleaned up and updated. With Deku Link, your spin attack forms a thorn branch on the end of his hat, Goron Link turns to stone upon performing a ground pound, and most notably with Zora link, who in the 64 version had kind of janky kung-fu animations, now it looks smooth and closer to realism.

The game cuts out a bit of the convoluted nature of it’s quests by giving you the Bomber’s Notebook as soon as you complete the first part of the game (breaking the skull kid’s curse). For those unaware, the Bomber’s Notebook was attained after catching all the Bombers a second time as normal Link. They let you join their crusade and give you a handy notebook that kept track of all the people and their wants. While I never had a problem with this, I can understand how gamers might have missed this because, seriously, why would you think to help the Bombers a second time? It’s helpful, but it felt a little hand-holdy to me.

Another thing that has been tweaked is time travel mechanic, though it’s only been fixed in two ways: one helpful, one annoying. The Song of Double Time has been tweaked allowing players to chose the specific hour of the day they want to skip forward to, as well as the next day. As opposed to the N64 version that just skipped ahead a whole day. This is very helpful when pursuing some of the games side-quests, rather than having to wait around doing nothing. The annoying tweak to the system is how the game no longer saves when playing the Song of Time. I know it’s a minor complaint, but this really bothered me. Saving on the first day made the most sense, and was actually more convenient than people give credit to. So what if it drained all your rupees and items? That makes sense; if you’re going back in time you wouldn’t have gotten them. Can’t you just appreciate a game with relatively correct time travel? The alternative in Majora’s Mask 3D is just littering the world with warp stones and save points. It’s too generous and reduces the game’s grim and punishing feel.

The controls for Goron and Zora Link have also been changed; one for the better and one for stupid annoyances respectively. For Goron Link, fans may recall how holding A would let you curl up into a ball and roll around at high speeds. In Majora’s Mask 3D, now simply pressing A locks you into a fixed ball, and your roll around, pressing a again to return to normal. At first this sounded tedious, however, playing with the New 3DS, it actually works really well, allowing you to control the camera nicely while rolling around. I gotta say, compared to the original, it makes rolling a dream.
Then they decided to add bullshit! Swimming as a Zora was changed for no damn reason. I always thought the Zoras were really cool, so getting to swim around as one was amazing, and in the original the controls were perfect. You move at the perfect speed, fast but not uncontrollable. The turn radius was really nice; you could jump out of the water like a dolphin; you could turn on your energy shield and repel danger while moving nicely. It was great.
Now, you hold A to swim, but it’s at this weird normal pace, then you hold R to activate your energy shield, which also makes you go fast! So in order to not move at a snails pace you have to drain all your energy. It’s so dumb. Why was that necessary Nintendo? What was wrong with the original way? It really made my favorite part of the game a frustrating mess, and the Great Bay Temple, which was one of my favorites, just a painful experience.
Speaking of the Great Bay Temple, there’s some other stupid bullshit that was changed that really, REALLY pissed me off. Remember in the original Majora’s Mask, when you got the Ice Arrows and you could freeze water to make platforms and that was really intuitive and unique for the time? Well for some reason, it was thought that it would be a good idea to get rid of those notions and replace them with designated, sparkly areas that can be frozen, rather than just freezing the water itself giving the player freedom. It’s stupid, linear, uninspired, hand-holdy, and just generally bad game design. Again, Nintendo saw it fit to fix what wasn’t broken.

One of the better tweaks is the optimization of the 3DS processor. All the animations are really crisp in a beautifully stable 30fps and everything moves smoothly and it all looks very nice. My only gripe is how fast certain things seem to move, particularly when putting on the mask. The original had this slow rocking camera when Link puts on his mask, before screaming in agony, and it was all very disorienting and spooky. Now it moves so fast it’s like this stupid rocking that makes it look silly. But overall, I can’t really complain, the game’s smoother than ever.

And another thing, what the hell happened to the fight with Odolwa. The first boss you face at the Woodfall Temple always scared the hell out of me. He was this massive figure, dancing around, chanting this weird sound (although to be honest I always thought it was the sound of his sword scraping against the floor). He was terrifying, and a very intimidating boss fight. In the 3D remake he’s just boring. Seriously, look at this:

Compared to this:

What a snoozefest! He just stands there! But I think there’s something to be said about how the bosses have been tweaked. Each boss as an eye ball somewhere on them which acts as their “main weak-spot” so to speak. While they feel kind of pointless on the other bosses, I kind of like how they used it on Odolwa. With the the other bosses, using the mask required for the dungeon generally helps with the boss, but with Woodfall temple, facing a massive sword wielding tribesman as a Deku Scrub doesn’t really inspire a lot of confidence. They way Odolwa is built in the 3D remake, actually incentivizes you to face him as Deku Link, and I liked how they kept the consistency of temples. Actually they do this with all the bosses, they change the experience a little to really incentivize you to face them with the specific race the temple was associated with. It helps drive home the idea that there were other heroes among the various races in the Zelda universe, and you get to experience their adventures.

Overall, The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D is everything you want in a Zelda game. It’s a great update for longtime fans, and an interesting and unique Zelda experience for newcomers. Defiantly worth a purchase!

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