The Legend of Zelda series is a staple to adventure games, and has been for over two decades. Each new entry finds a new way to improve various aspects, whether it be the gameplay, the characters, or the visual style. Even with advances, fans of the series do pick favorites, and they typically wish to experience the older titles with a fresh coat of paint. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D and The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD were both excellent examples, and fans were left wanting more. In comes The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D, a visually updated version of the sequel to Ocarina of Time, and what may arguably be the darkest in tone for the series. Fans of the series will see that meeting a terrible fate has never felt this good.
Like Ocarina of Time, this remake has had a visual facelift, with improved 3D models, textures, lighting, and even some technical enhancements like full stereoscopic 3D and more save options. Even though the visuals have been updated, the true beauty of this game is really in the story and the characters. Set in Termina, the mischievous skull kid has cursed the land and is using Majora’s Mask to bring the moon down upon the planet. Given only three days to save it, time is of the essence, and players must use Link’s trusty ocarina to turn back time to relive the days, performing various tasks each run. As players go through the same events, they get to know the characters, and the lives they live in this wonderfully tragic setting. Everyone has been affected by the powers of the Skull Kid, and it’s up to Link to solve their problems, granted that he be rewarded for his troubles. Through helping these characters, one would see that these characters truly bring a lot of heart and emotion to the game, despite the fact that the original game was made within only a year while reusing assets from Ocarina of Time.
Since the game was originally made within a year, it does bring to light some of the flaws that we usually wouldn’t see in a game of this franchise. Despite the characters all being carefully fleshed out, the dungeon design, while visually beautiful, takes a hit in the actual “design” concept. While the dungeons use the items in the game frequently enough, the organization of how many items have to be used, and how often is a bit messy. This game brings in the ability to use masks to transform Link to various forms, and though each dungeon focuses on a particular mask, there will be many times where the player will have to use multiple forms. One could be playing in Snowhead temple, using the Goron mask to do various tasks and puzzles, only to see a deku flower that may need the player to sidetrack as the Deku Scrub for a bit, while also using various other items like the Hero’s Bow, Lens of Truth, and more. It becomes a bit too complicated with the item management and overall, the dungeons feel weaker compared to others from the series. This may be because the dungeons are just a tad too busy, as not only is the player tasked with finding the dungeon items, but also tasked with finding stray fairies throughout the dungeon, having to use the Great Fairy mask to draw many of them close enough to collect. On top of that, there are moments when the player must revisit some of the dungeons to defeat the boss (or even a mini-boss) to perform a new task. The design in general just feels a little scattered, which regardless of that fact, it remains faithful to the original game, which is the point of these remasters.
As far as the difficulty of the game, Majora’s Mask doesn’t do a lot of hand holding. Many of the secrets, the player has to figure out on their own, and they must use the various information given to them and use their Bomber’s notebook to complete everything properly. Since everything is on a timer, there is little room for error for various tasks like obtaining the Couple’s Mask, or helping out Romani with her little “problem”. It may take a bit of experimenting to find out the best order to tackle things, and players will want to make sure they give themselves enough time using the inverted song of time. Despite the challenge of the puzzles and tasks, it is quite interesting how inconsistent the combat difficulty is. Most enemies won’t do very much damage to you outside of the Iron Knuckles, even the bosses do very little damage. Things get even easier when the Great Fairy from Great Bay Temple gets rescued, improving Link’s defense and cutting all damage in half. It would have been nice to include a Hero Mode like in Skyward Sword, giving players a chance to experience a more difficult version, or maybe even a Master Quest like in Ocarina of Time 3D. Despite the omissions, Majora’s Mask 3D still maintains a wonderful magic, and it gives players more than enough reasons to play the adventure again, or for the first time.
Final Score: 8 out of 10