Shooting The Moon –
Taking place shortly after the conclusion of Ocarina of Time, Majora’s Mask is a Zelda game unlike any other. Ransacked by the Skull Kid while riding Epona through a forest, Link is robbed of his possessions, turned into a plant, and transported to a doomed world. With only three days to prevent the moon from crashing down and destroying everything, Majora’s Mask’s Groundhog Day-like narrative is dark, memorable, and full of emotion.
Like the re-release of Ocarina of Time on 3DS, Majora’s Mask has received the same amount of loving care in both the visual department as well as gameplay. With significant improvements over the N64 original, the updated graphics make the world of Termina look better than ever. Further, the use of stereoscopic 3D makes exploring Termina a constant pleasure especially when playing on a New 3DS XL system.
Beyond the obvious visual upgrade, the use of the New 3DS second analog nub makes play control efficient and comfortable although not necessary to fully enjoy the game; the Circle Pad Pro is also supported. I played through most of the adventure using an original model 3DS and never had an issue. Unlike the HD edition of the Wind Waker on Wii U, this Majora’s Mask re-release features additional camera control options, such as the ability to reverse the Y axis, via the menu options. Using the touch screen also makes swapping and accessing items a snap.
There are also several new additional features spread throughout the game that enhance this 3D remastering over the original. First is the Bomber’s Notebook. Obtained early in the adventure, this digital diary logs all of Link’s progress and even keeps track of side quests automatically. It comes in handy especially since Termina is filled with secrets and side stories to explore and can help prevent players from looking up FAQs online. The Sheikah Stone found in the clocktower is also extremely helpful by gently providing hints to the player when progress gets “stuck.” Like an in-game Vine, these short videos tell the player where to go and where they have been. Purists might think this is a form of cheating but since the player specifically needs to go out of their way to access this stone, it is solely optional and there when you need it. I personally used it a few times throughout the adventure since Majora’s Mask’s difficulty is higher than other 3D Zelda titles from a puzzle, dungeon, and exploring point of view.
One of the major complaints about the N64 original was the save system. Before, the game would only hard save when Link would travel back in time to the First Day by playing the Song of Time on the Ocarina of Time, with temporary saves via owl statues deeply spread throughout the land. Once these temp saves were reloaded, the N64 cartridge would immediately delete them. This 3DS remake, with more memory available, corrects this issue by allowing the player to hard save at any statue. This, in combination with the ability to instantly travel to any unlocked statue, makes the game more playable especially for a handheld environment. The only negative aspect of this new save system is that it takes away a little something from the ominous doom that constantly plagues the player with the falling moon. Some heart pieces have also been relocated from the original release, new fishing features are available as optional side objectives, swimming control is also different but negatively makes jumping out of the water more difficult than it should be when playing as a Zora, and even controlling the Goron roll move has received an upgrade. With just a couple minor exceptions, all the changes made enhance the Majora’s Mask experience as oppose to hinder it. The ability to travel forward in time to any specific hour also makes gameplay more friendly.
There is no question that Majora’s Mask is an outstanding game that stands as a one-of-a-kind but there are still some issues with the overall experience that makes the journey through Termina a little more tedious than it needs to be. First is the time mechanic. The entire game is based around time continually ticking away through the three day cycle. While this makes questing entertaining, as certain things only happen at specific times on specific days, it requires plenty of backtracking and repeated steps. For example, relieving the frozen Goron village of its icy prison unlocks new areas and secrets. But in order to change the season from winter to summer, the player will need to travel back to the dungeon and defeat the boss again. This becomes a pain when all you want to do is collect that one piece of heart at the bottom of river. The same goes for the final topsy-turvy dungeon. Here, Link learns an ocarina tune that allows him to make a stationary copy of himself to help with switch puzzles. This tune, however, is one of the longest in the game and must be replayed over and over to get through the same areas. It would be nice if these statues just remained instead of magically disappearing as soon as you walk through one door.
The biggest complain about the time mechanic is that sometimes you just simply need more time. For example, I was about 95% of my way through a dungeon when I was forced to revert back to Day One because the moon was literally just seconds away from crashing. Since I had to reset the world, I was then forced to play through the entire dungeon again since all the puzzles reset as well. This is only amplified because the game encourages exploration but if you get caught up exploring, or try to gather every last hidden fairy in each dungeon, the player can easily run out of time and be forced to redo everything all over again. Time management has never been more of a factor in gameplay. There is an option to slow time to half its speed but I almost wish there was a way to freeze time temporarily just to get through a dungeon without having to replay it all over again.
Since the freakishly faced moon can be seen from almost anywhere, it is a constant reminder to stay on track to help save this world. This feeling of dread, worry, and just overall doom makes Majora’s Mask the darkest Zelda adventure ever created but also one that shouldn’t be ignored. Although the time mechanic can get on your nerves sometimes, the enhanced features help alleviate some of this pain in this 3D re-release. Launching alongside Nintendo New 3DS XL handheld system, there has never been a better way to play this N64 classic. Even if you played the 64-bit original to death, there are plenty of reasons to travel through Termina one more time.
More Difficult Than: other Zelda games
Also Try: Chrono Trigger
Wait For It: Zelda Wii U
By: Zachary Gasiorowski, Editor in Chief myGamer.com