Legend of Zelda fans will already know, but Majora’s Mask for 3DS is a remake of a Nintendo 64 game of the same name. It’s the direct sequel to Ocarina of Time, and has always been one of the most beloved games in the series for its more adult themes and concepts. Does this remake capture the essence of the old game, while bringing something new? I take a trip through time to find out.
The Legend of Zelda:
Groundhog Day Edition Majora’s Mask takes up the tale of Link immediately after leaving Hyrule and Princess Zelda as he seeks his fairy friend, Navi. While trotting through a forest, Link is assaulted by a strangely-masked kid and two fairy siblings, Tatl and Tael. In the ensuing chaos, the two fairies get separated, and Tatl is forced to remain with Link, who makes his way to the aptly-named Clock Town. The biggest feature of this town? Not a clock. Not as of current, anyhow. It’s the moon, and the strange kid has used the power of the mask to draw the moon down to earth in an attempt to destroy Clock Town, and the surrounding land of Termina. Link has a grand total of three days to save the town. Can he do it?
Well, of course he can—he’s Link. Of course, trying to fix everything in three days (actually roughly just over an hour real time, where each in game minute is one real-time second) is on the order of about twelve impossibles, so it takes a bit of time travel to make sure everything’s right with the world. At any point in the game, you can zap Link back to the beginning of the first day, and relive the same 72 hours, the catch being that you lose any money, bombs, arrows, potions, etc that you may have gathered; some things do manage to stay in your inventory, such as masks, bottles, and actual weapons. What you get up to during those 72 hours is up to you (mostly), but the rest of the world around you goes by on exactly the same schedule as before. So you know that the postman in Clock Town will be doing his rounds between 9am and 3pm, and that it rains on the second day, or that the lottery shop will announce the same three numbers on day 1 from 6pm. This routine becomes an integral part of the story and of figuring out exactly what’s going on, because the game is far less action focused than other Legend of Zelda games. The game is insanely puzzle-heavy, and just about every person you’ll encounter has some sort of puzzle to solve, usually tied into a specific period of time over the three days. Unique to Majora’s Mask (and to a smaller degree, Ocarina of Time) is the concept of masks as puzzle-solving tools: Link can put on any one of over a dozen masks to give himself different abilities from super strength to talking to dogs. You get to know very quickly which mask to use for which occasion. And finally, rounding off the complement of tools, you have songs which can be played on Link’s Ocarina. This, then, makes for a far less open-world game, and with the deadline ever present, you’re faced with a boatload more tension than in other Zelda games.
The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask was made specifically with the New Nintendo 3DS in mind, although the game happily supports the Circle Pad Pro. I tried the game on both, and also on the vanilla 3DS sans Circle Pad, and the addition of the second analogue stick is definitely a godsend, although by no means necessary; the camera seems clever enough to figure out how you want to view the world. I had some trouble with the camera while playing underwater segments, but these were isolated incidents. Again, with the New Nintendo 3DS in mind, the game uses the motion controls to fine-tune bow and hook shot aiming, and the New 3DS’s stable 3D makes this far far easier to manage than on the older model 3DS.
Despite being the most demanding game in the Legend of Zelda series, it’s possibly the most rewarding while also being one of the most tragic. The game’s characters are some of the best-written, and because of the amount of time you get to spend with them, you’ll come to know their dark stories, and probably love them all the more for it. It’s definitely no child’s game, this—I’d recommend that you be at least 14 or 15 before playing this, because so many of the themes are complex and interwoven with adult motifs and threads. There’s a definite sense of achievement that comes with playing Majora’s Mask (and I really do recommend you leave GameFAQs alone for this game, because much of the reward is in figuring things out for yourself. In fact, the game gives you a fairly robust hint system in case you get lost, and honestly, you’ll be more than fine with that). The time-rewind mechanism gets a bit annoying in places, and there are definite parts which require repetitive playthroughs, but they’re not so numerous that the entire situation becomes onerous. For example, once you’ve defeated a boss in a temple, you don’t have to replay the entire temple just to get back to that boss: the game provides many shortcuts for tasks you’ve already performed. Furthermore, if one side quest is getting much, play a different one for a while, because there are a lot of them. If you want to play the game to completion, you’ll be at it for a while.
The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask is still one of the best Legend of Zelda games out there, and this remake is absolutely the definitive version. It’s not a game that will leave you bored, although it will most likely leave you puzzled if you don’t pay attention to all the clues. The best parts of the game? The “aha!” moments when you figure out a puzzle that’s been bugging you since the start of the game.
Final Score: 9 Masked Prawns out of 10
Distributor: Nintendo South Africa
Platforms: Nintendo 3DS (and XL), Nintendo 2DS, New Nintendo 3DS (and XL)
Release Date: 13 February 2015
RRP: R530 (standard edition), R599 (steelbook edition)