The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask is one of the most unique and divisive games among fans of Nintendo’s renowned series. The initial release of the game was met with a mixed reaction that generated a lot of good and bad buzz back on the Nintendo 64.
The game did have a cult following among Zelda fans with its emphasis on grim urgency, impending doom, and a dynamic land to explore again and again. When The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time was re-released on the Nintendo 3DS, many gamers called for Majora’s Mask to get the 3D portable treatment as well. It took a very long time, but Nintendo finally answered fans’ requests with The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D, and they did not disappoint.
Those who are veterans of the N64 era of Zelda games will be pleased to know that much of Majora’s Mask 3D retains the story, gameplay, and secrets of the original release.
Link leaves Hyrule on a personal journey and comes across a Skull Kid wielding the cursed Majora’s Mask. The Skull Kid turns Link into a Deku scrub and proceeds to bring doom upon Clocktown by having the moon fall from the sky.
The plot that unfolds over the course of the game explores various dark themes that are a change of pace for the Zelda series. Those who never played the original game on N64 will be a bit bummed out that the game doesn’t take place in Hyrule like in Ocarina of Time, but will quickly be enthralled by the events that unfold during The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D.
On the 3DS, the game’s graphics get a total overhaul with smoother models and better looking environments. The visuals have more vibrant colors on the screen and actually look great with the 3D slider turned up on the 3DS.
Cutscenes and areas that were overly dark in the original game have now been brightened up and look much clearer. This also helps to make the game’s whimsical side stand out more. The day and night cycles that made Majora’s Mask so noteworthy are handled with even better care than in the original release. The time slider from the original game is now replaced with a bar on the bottom of the screen, which is easier to understand and helpful when planning out what quests to do during the set three day cycle.
While the dungeons and core gameplay from the original are the same in The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D, there are a handful of positive tweaks and additions.
The bombers notebook that Link receives at the beginning of the game helps give details and time-frames for various main and side-quests throughout the game. Not only does it give notifications when you complete or fail a quest, it has stored info for recurring quests that can be completed again and again each time Link uses the Song of Time to restart at Day 1.
The notebook doesn’t record story details or other info about characters during the side-quests, but it is still helpful when knowing when and where to meet different characters and help them out. Some quests have been given minor tweaks to make things a bit easier, but most of the quests are essentially the same from the N64 version.
You can now save at any time through the use of Owl and Book statues at various locations. Originally, a game could only be saved by playing the song of time and restarting at Day 1. Now through the use of the statues, you can save your game at any time of day instead of having to restart in order to save.
In addition, the 3DS bottom screen makes managing and using items and equipment much easier and more practical. Items can be used by touching the bottom screen and/or mapped to the face buttons for when you need them. You can also view dungeon maps and key items on the bottom screen without having to pause the entire game and navigate through the menus.
The most significant change however is the free camera movement through the use of the 3DS Circle Pad Pro or the second stick on the New 3DS system. Being able to move the camera freely with the 3DS second stick makes exploring dungeons and Clocktown extremely smooth and less of a hassle. You won’t have to rely on the shoulder buttons to refocus your viewpoint in tight corners and narrow pathways.
There are a few other changes from the original version of Majora’s Mask that are questionable. The gyroscope feature on the 3DS can be a real hindrance when trying to aim in first-person mode with arrows or the Hook Shot. Unless you have a super steady set of hands, you will end up messing up a few times when trying to aim a shot in first-person mode. This can be changed in the options when you first boot up the game, but it would have been more helpful to have the options available in the bottom menu when playing.
Above all else, Majora’s Mask on the 3DS still holds up as a solid title 15 years after its N64 release. The real treat for those who played the original game will be the graphical overhaul and the slew of extra changes in the 3DS version, as well as visiting the world of Clocktown once again.
While some of the changes are questionable, the good outweighs the bad in this remake. You will easily sink more than 20 hours into this adventure when trying to complete everything. Although not perfect or as genre defining as its predecessor, The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D is still a game everyone will want to have in their 3DS collection.
This review is based on a retail copy of The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D for the Nintendo 3DS which was paid for out-of-pocket.