“Majora’s Mask 3D” shows our rose-tinted glasses were surprisingly clear


“The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D”

By Colin McInerney

“The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D” largely preserves the atmosphere and feeling of the original game but has numerous tweaks both subtle and obvious that largely improve and streamline the experience. The improved inventory management, graphics and the addition of motion controls all serve to show what can be done when an old game is given a proper restoration.

“Majora’s Mask” is a game with a history. After the overwhelming success of “The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time,” Nintendo big shot Shigeru Miyamoto—creator of “Super Mario Bros.” and “The Legend of Zelda” among others—approached Zelda director Eiji Aonuma and demanded an upgrade for “Ocarina of Time.” This was to be a remixed version of the game with new and rearranged dungeons, to be titled “Zelda Ura.” Aonuma, however, had no desire to keep working on “Ocarina of Time,” and instead requested to make a sequel. Miyamoto gave Aonuma’s team a year to work on the game, and “Majora’s Mask” was born.

At the time, “Ocarina of Time” was groundbreaking. It was conceived in an era when developers were only just learning how to work within a 3D game space, and with the combination of the wide-open areas, completely new perspectives and the well-constructed dungeons, the series was known for one of the most memorable experiences in gaming history. Even now the game still tops numerous “best game of all time” lists.

Though “Majora’s Mask” was well received, it did not have the luxury of being original. It was guaranteed not to have the same impact, and some fans worried about having a sequel so soon. When the game launched in 2000, many still compared it unfavorably to “Ocarina,” their thoughts still fresh with the memory of having conquered Ganondorf and saved Hyrule.

Currently, “Majora’s Mask” is widely regarded as the superior game for its dark and mature themes, its almost complete lack of Ganondorf and Zelda as characters, its masks and its three-day cycle. The clock is always ticking down toward the inevitable destruction of Termina, the world “Majora’s Mask” is set in, as the moon looms overhead slowly getting closer. Players can only accomplish so much in each cycle, and the more they uncover throughout the game, the more apparent it becomes that they cannot save everyone on each cycle. There is simply too much to do in three days. At any point, players can reset time to the first day and the cycle repeats.

While this sounds soul-crushing, the caveat is that every non-player character in the game is on a consistent schedule, and learning the schedules is imperative to completing the game. Whether players need to complete a temple, a side quest, or do miscellaneous tasks, there is always something to be done at every moment in the game. This is due to the game’s development. “Majora’s Mask” was originally set to have seven days in its cycle and was later compressed with little of the content being cut.

New and old players will find something new in this game. Parts of the world have been adjusted, a few quests have been changed and every boss fight is slightly different. Despite these changes, it does not detract from the original game at all—the atmosphere is preserved and in some cases reinforced.

The majority of tweaks to the game serve to make it more accessible to new players, removing the need for context in regards to both the “Legend of Zelda” series and video games entirely. The one bad change that made itself obvious is in regards to the Bombers’ Notebook, what in most video games would simply be called a journal or quest log.

The changes to the notebook itself are fantastic. Even small quests and events are now tracked in it, making it easier than ever before to give progress. The problem lies in how it is given to the player. In both versions, the player starts the game cursed to be a Deku Scrub by the game’s antagonist, the Skull Kid. After shooting down a balloon that a small kid named Jim is shooting at, Jim reveals himself to be leader of the Bombers, a secret society dedicated to helping others. After the player wins a game of hide and seek, they reveal the password to their hideout but refuse to let Link join because of his appearance.

In the original game, there are two ways to join the Bombers after Link’s curse is lifted; either by replaying hide and seek or by simply entering the hideout. If the latter happens, Jim is impressed by Link’s ability to get information and simply gives him the notebook. In the remake, the notebook is given by an unrelated NPC who simply found it. This undercuts the sense of belonging and helpfulness that becoming one of the Bombers created, and it is really the remake’s only detriment.

The three days of the game are packed to the brim with content, the game’s art direction and music are breathtaking and the new tweaks will ensure that even new gamers will have a much easier time exploring what was once a largely unwelcoming game. “The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D” is an absolute must-play.