Review: The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D (Nintendo 3DS)

The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D: Official GBAtemp Review

Nintendo 3DS 4,329 views 7 likes 20 comments
Reviewed by Brandon Boui, posted Feb 24, 2015
Majora's Mask, the follow up to Ocarina of Time, was definitely a game that I spent some of my childhood playing, although I couldn't firmly attach myself to the direction in which the game was going in. I decided to try again and see what I truly missed out on.
Feb 24, 2015
  • Release Date (NA): February 13, 2015
  • Release Date (EU): February 13, 2015
  • Release Date (JP): February 13, 2015
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Developer: Grezzo
  • Genres: Role-playing, Action
  • ESRB Rating: Everyone 10 and up
  • PEGI Rating: Seven years and older
  • Single player
    Local Multiplayer
    Online Multiplayer
    Co-operative
Majora's Mask 3D was announced in a January Nintendo Direct, and has been remade by Grezzo, the studio that was in charge of the remake for Ocarina of Time 3D. Featuring improved controls, enhanced graphics, and beautiful 3D environments.
Brandon Boui
Majora's Mask is by far one of the most divisive video games in the Legend of Zelda franchise, and by far one of the most pressuring titles for Nintendo following their enormous success with Ocarina of Time. Ask any fan about their opinion of this game, however, and you will witness a wide variation of reactions - some that absolutely praised the title for trying something different, and some who pretend that the title never existed in their world, claiming that the changes were too much. It is a hope that the new remake, Majora's Mask 3D would provide a sense of catharsis and calm to fans who couldn't quite attach to the title originally. I was one of those people all the way back when - I absolutely hated the idea of a three day system and having to turn back time, Groundhog Day-esque, and repeating the same things over and over again. So therefore, my approach to this review was quite different. I played through the version for the Nintendo 3DS, took my notes, and redid the entire experience as played out back in the old days of the Nintendo 64. The overall purpose for this review won't be so heavily focused on mechanics and plot related details, overall, but will be comparing notes between the original and the remake to help you guys determine whether the game is worth playing or not. So without further ado...

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Majora's Mask 3D Review (NA eShop)

The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask is a sequel to the highly acclaimed Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, following the adventures of the Hero of Time after the events of Ocarina, as he searches for a lost but highly valued friend, presumed to be Navi, the rather obnoxious fairy companion who assisted Link in his endeavors. His search leads him to the land of Termina, a small region that faces peril as the moon is poised to destroy the entire region within three days. Link is caught up within this event and must proceed to halt the cataclysm while repeating the same three days, over and over again...

Plot wise, the details haven't changed, and all the itty bitty details could be perused at your own leisure on the web - the title is fifteen years old, and at this point it's relatively safe to say that I can't spoil any of the other details as it's all out there buried in some Wiki site. The plot, as simplistic as it is, has a lot more character than a lot of other Zelda titles, as the characters Link interacts with have such a different worldview in comparison to other Zelda franchise NPCs. Their worldview is, understandably, much different as they only have three days to live, or so they think. Their interactions with Link are a lot more intimate as they are forced to stare death straight in the face, quite literally I might add. On a personal note, the moon in the remake is absolutely terrifying to look at. It does a great job at setting that dark atmosphere in the game, by far one of the darkest plots to hit the franchise. However, despite bringing a new outlook to the table in saving a troubled land, the remake enters this territory again, relives those details, and makes some changes to the game, some of which I was not personally fond of. The game is about change, and in quite a big way. Will it be for the better or for the worse?

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The biggest change in the game from the beginning was the implementation of the three-day system. The three-day system is quite possibly one of the most unique mechanics of any game - not many games, if any at all, use this mechanic to get their point across. Even if a game used a similar mechanic, the pressure never quite felt as on as it did in Majora's Mask. Thankfully, the element returns in full again with one second equating to one minute in Termina time. What did change was the idea of time manipulation, which actually took out some of the fun (some can call it bloody tedium) that made the original game so special. In the days of the N64, the title only allowed you to properly save your data upon playing the Song of Time, which would take back all of your dungeon related progress. In the remake version, gone are the days of backpedaling through dungeons to keep things intact - permanent Owl Statues (in layman's terms, a Save Statue) are placed conveniently and rather ubiquitously throughout the land of Termina, to aid the player in making the right choices. However, just because this statue is present does not necessarily make the game any easier. The game is still intensely focused on having the player keep track of time, but it means that you no longer have to return to the Dawn of the First Day when you get tired of playing. Being on a handheld, it's both a welcome change and a change that will most likely bore the most hardcore gamers, who would categorize this as Nintendo "oversimplifying." For the regular "standard" gamer, this change is something that should be embraced as it reduces some of the stress of having to plan quite so meticulously.

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Related to time, the 3D remake allows players to skip around time. It's quite a convenient feature, as quite a number of events that occur in-game are time-centric. Said events could happen only during the day, or during the night, or everywhere else in-between. This time-skip feature removes the need to listlessly stare at your room's walls as you wait for time to pass. It's a welcome change that brings out a sense of better manipulation and again, reduces stress.

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From here on out, Nintendo and Grezzo made a number of warmly positive changes. Changes that occurred in the prequel remake, Ocarina of Time 3D, such as the implementation of touch screen controls, a bottom screen map, and the organization of items, make a welcome return back to Majora's Mask 3D. The prior changes from Ocarina were mostly lauded as a better means of organizing the game with more freedom in comparison to the limitations of the Nintendo 64. One of the more welcome changes was an item that helps players keep track of in-game events: the Bomber's Notebook. In the original title, the notebook was just an option but in the remake the notebook is quite literally handed to you for use as a means to track in-game events that occur in Termina. Side quests, player discoverable events, and other references of interest are recorded in the book, which handily enough gives you access to a timer system that lets you know when something that you need to be aware of is ready in game. It's such a nice change that I'm quite happy with the way the notebook integrates into the interface. It's smooth and just works quite well out the gate. Keeping track of all of these events back in the old version was a bit of a chore - more pen to paper related, more note taking, which in a way can be quite fun. It feels more authentic and more akin to the days of looking up those little tips and tricks in gaming magazines.

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Other minor additions include the utilization of the C-stick of the New Nintendo 3DS XL or the Circle Pad Pro, which allows for a more accurate use of camera control. The pressurized nub actually works quite well in the overall interface and feels completely natural. Players might also like to use the system's gyroscope as a means of observation, which makes a nice return from Ocarina of Time 3D - move the system around and the camera moves with the system, kind of like you're seeing the world from Link's own eyes. The visuals have been given a nice overhaul to match the composition found in the Ocarina of Time 3D remake, which is definitely nice - seeing Termina Field for that first time, with the 3D effect, is a great and nostalgic experience. These changes, however, I feel will leave some fans polarized as it eliminates the tedium that some could have come to love from the original title. Overall, I was happy to observe that the majority of the key concepts that defined Majora's Mask were still kept intact, for the most part.

From here on out, the game starts making some relatively eyebrow-raising changes, which did not positively impact the series. Having played the new one and the old one just recently, the details between the two combined with my own notes/observations are very fresh. I'm just appalled at some of the mechanic changes that the development chose to pursue in the attempt to make the game more appealing to fans, which can be translated to making the games more child-friendly. I don't know why Nintendo chooses to do this to their titles. I left many a remark in my review for Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, in which Nintendo chose to optimize the experience by reducing the amount of exploration time with the idea of story point teleports to the next destination. I absolutely hated the idea because it's becoming hand holding at this point, like a Mario game where if you die too much they give you invincible flying that lets you soar over the level. Majora's Mask is an easy title, for the most part, but the changes to the boss mechanics made it even easier!

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In a typical Zelda game, every game sans The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, your job would be to romp through a small overworld area, explore a dungeon, find a nice and shiny new item, and then utilize that item. The old version made boss battles more interesting, with an element of "strategic tactics" that could be found in boss encounters that wasn't quite so button mashy. I quote strategic tactics because it felt more like The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, where things fought felt like mini-puzzles that could be solved. In the remake of Majora's Mask, I felt that a lot of the novelty of the original encounters got extremely dumbed down to an extent where it became less a battle about worrying over my heart meter and more about how efficiently I could mash my attack buttons. To put this even more bluntly, how fast can you guys spam your B-button to deal that massive damage during a crucial few seconds where the boss is stunned? The cleverness of some of the original boss mechanics got replaced by an obnoxiously obvious weak spot. The weak spot returns. Whether it's an eyeball or a bloody eyesore, the weakness makes no attempt to be subtle and it just screams in your face. Blandly colored boss would have a big and bright bullseye that screams, "ATTACK ME!" It's so off putting and the battles lost almost all of its "charm." I don't like the hand holding, and overall this smeared what could have been a great game, by making it excessively easy. It's only off-putting that the encounters in the original felt more irking due to limitations, rather than mechanics.

In other news, with that small and disappointing ramble out of the way, other changes include the reintroduction of the Sheikh Stones, which allows Link to crawl underneath it for a bit of "prophetic wisdom..." which translates to a contextually "blurry" (it won't say exactly where!) overview of what you should be doing. As mentioned above, the camera and gyroscope make a comeback, but all in all, I didn't need to utilize a lot of the Circle Pad Pro related mechanics. You guys can get along perfectly fine on the regular Nintendo 3DS/3DS XL. However, I'm more than surprised a bit by the lag that was present in Termina Field with the 3D effect enabled. Both on a regular console and a New Nintendo 3DS XL console had the lag happen, and for the first time entering Termina Field it's definitely a little bit disappointing. The music, ripped straight from the Nintendo 64 version, returns in all of its glory - minorly sad that there was no orchestral movement to accompany the soundtrack, which has accompanied newer 3DS titles.

All in all, I am very unsure what I want to think about this game. The game takes things in the right direction by making it more accessible, but in doing so it generates disdain from hardcore fans and the purists who wanted to stick to the rather troublesome roots of maintaining the tedium associated with having to backtrack off of the three-day mechanic. The updated visuals and interface improvements felt natural and fluid, deserving a spot as one of the titles with nicer visuals. The 3D looks great and adds a wonderful layer of depth, giving the title a fresh coat of paint that should have been applied to the music as well. But hey, I get it, the nostalgia trip. Not too much that I can really say to complain about it though (consider it a personal squabble, and it will have no effect on the overall scoring of this write up). Unfortunately, however, the changes to the boss mechanics for the remake, when compared to the original, shows that the remake pales in comparison. There is almost no justification that could warrant me awarding extra points for this, as it's just completely disappointing - it made a relatively easy game too easy to be considered a worthy remake. Don't get me wrong, the game looks great and it does a great job at bringing a very divisive game to a new audience, but for those who grew up with pen and paper and a timer to keep track of things, you might be just a tad disappointed that the remake isn't truly a reimagining of the classic Majora's Mask experience. It's a good purchase to make at some point in time, but I couldn't justify spending the full price quite yet, especially with a lot of different ways to access the original. I'd suggest playing the original and then playing the remake to fully utilize the experience to its maximum potential. Call this bitterness or whatever you wish to call it, but the game could definitely have done a bit better in the strategic department, although I completely understand the logistics of attempting to bring the game to a new generation.
Verdict
Pros
+ -Remastered visuals
+ -Time mechanics retained
+ -Some of the tedious aspects of the game have been revamped to make game less tedious
Cons
- -Boss battles are comically easy
- -Nintendo chooses to again handhold it's audience with some of its mechanic changes
8 Presentation
The interface works well, and the updated visuals make it a game that looks like a 2015 title. Things have changed to better suit the times.
8 Gameplay
It's still (mostly) the same old same old with a Zelda game, only with a better and more polished coat of paint that is free from the restraints of the Nintendo 64.
7 Lasting Appeal
It's still a Zelda title, a good one, but not great. It did well in bringing a confused title to a more broad audience, but in turn the title hurt itself and its more hardcore fans.
7.9
out of 10
Overall (not an average)
I am very unsure what I want to think about this game. The game takes things in the right direction by making it more accessible, but in doing so it generates disdain from hardcore fans and the purists who wanted to stick to the rather troublesome roots of maintaining the tedium associated with having to backtrack off of the three-day mechanic. The updated visuals and interface improvements felt natural and fluid, deserving a spot as one of the titles with nicer visuals. The 3D looks great and adds a wonderful layer of depth. Unfortunately, however, the changes to the boss mechanics for the remake, when compared to the original, shows that the remake pales in comparison. It's a good purchase to make at some point in time. I'd suggest playing the original and then playing the remake to fully utilize the experience to its maximum potential.
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