In 1998, Nintendo redefined the action/adventure genre when they released the first 3D installment of the long running Legend of Zelda series, Ocarina of Time. The game was nearly flawless when it came out, although it hasn’t aged as gracefully as others, it remains one of the greatest – if not the greatest game of all time.
Two years later, Nintendo blew the competition away again when they released Majora’s Mask, one of the only direct sequels in the Zelda series. While retaining the awesome feel of Ocarina, Nintendo added a whole new dimension to the gameplay with the introduction of masks – each with its own specific attribute. This, coupled with the ability to transform into a Deku, Zora, or Goron, turned a game that used the same assets and engine as Ocarina into a completely new and exciting experience that would be loved by fans for years to come.
After the success of Ocarina of Time 3D, Nintendo began hinting at a Majora’s Mask HD remake, using some not-so-subtle clues in both Zelda: A Link Between Worlds and the newest installment of Super Smash Bros. Nintendo eventually came out and stated the obvious, that they were indeed making Majora’s Mask 3D for the 3DS. After months of anticipation, the game has finally arrived; and it is everything Zelda fans have hoped for.
While it is simply a remake of the original, Majora’s Mask 3D is not a “port” per say. The most obvious improvement is the graphics, which have undergone a major overhaul. Textures and models look gorgeous, and animations have been greatly smoothed over and improved. The moon has gone from silly-looking to terrifying, which really adds to the dread of impending doom that is the main theme. All of the characters look great, and are not nearly as “polygonal” as they were in the original N64 title.
Some of the cutscenes have also been improved. For example, the “business scrub” cutscene that would occur every time the player walked by his deku flower in Clocktown has been shortened, which is a welcome relief to all those who would accidentally walk to close while strolling through South Clocktown.
Aside from the graphics, certain gameplay tweaks have made Majora’s Mask so much more streamlined. There are now four item slots as well as a separate slot for the ocarina. Anyone who has played the original will remember the monotony of constantly switching items out of the three allotted slots in that. The addition of motion-controlled aiming is another great improvement over the original, where it could be almost impossible sometimes to line up that perfect shot. The Bomber’s Notebook has also been greatly improved. The player can now set alarms for when certain events are to occur. The Song of Double Time has also been improved, allowing the player to select the exact hour they want to warp to, unlike in Majora’s Mask 64, where it went in 12-hour increments.
There are a few things that some veteran players, however, may not like. One is the difficulty, which has been lowered a little bit from the original. Majora’s Mask 64 was notorious for its difficulty. Nintendo have altered that slightly, making the boss fights easier and adding some extra in-game hints. Several side quests have also been moved around, which may throw off veterans of the N64 version.
One of the biggest pet peeves is Zora Link’s swimming, which has been nerfed. In Majora’s Mask 64, you were able to swim fast kind of like a dolphin, and if you hit the “shield” button, a blue aura would appear around you that allowed you to damage enemies in the water. Now however, you can only “dolphin swim” when doing the blue aura attack. The basic swim action is now not nearly as fast as it used to be. Zora Link simply meanders through the water a bit faster than he would as regular Link.
This is a disappointment, as one of our favorite things to do in Majora’s Mask 64 was swim around the ocean at high speeds and see how high we could jump out. Now you can only do this as long as your magic meter lasts – which isn’t very long as the shield ability takes a lot to use.
Aside from these minor setbacks, Majora’s Mask 3D is still a great title. Nintendo have really gone above and beyond to improve what they could. It seems that they have listened to a lot of the player’s complaints over the years, and have tried their best to fix those issues. With all of these HD Zelda games coming out, we are excited to see what Nintendo has cooked up for the next new installment in the series, as well any more remakes they have planned. As for Majora’s Mask 3D, it is a definite buy for both veteran players and new fans of the series alike.