“Unique” is not a term we get to use accurately these days in the games industry, what with numerous franchises lurking around, putting the same old stuff out year after year. And you could argue that I’m being somewhat ironic, considering that I’m saying that in a Zelda review. But Majora’s Mask is a game that is like no other and so, by definition, it is unique, regardless of the fact that the Legend of Zelda franchise is a startling 29 years old now. The original Majora’s Mask came out on the Nintendo 64, about 15 years ago and was praised being unique and criticized for being fiendish. I’ve never had a chance to play the original (because, a) I was 6 when it came out and b) I was bought a Dreamcast) so I was excited to finally get my hands on the 3D remake after hearing many positives.
The first thing I noticed is that this isn’t like any other Zelda game. While controls feel natural and responsive, and the graphics are comfortably similar, the whole feel of Majora’s Mask is different. For starters, the pressure of the 3-day system can feel like you’re limited in how much you can explore, which is a shame, because it’s easily one of the franchises best points. In fact, it’s a rather marmite, love-hate system that feels both restricting but also offers avenues to explore, as the scenery changes throughout. The amount of varying content over the three day period is fairly vast and it’ll take you a while to discover everything the game has to offer, though getting heart pieces and other items or events can be quite a pain, as you have to restart the cycle if you miss them.
Majora’s Mask seems to be a showing off just how dark Nintendo can be. Death is a fairly common theme throughout, which is unusual for the usually child-friendly developer, which can be quite disturbing. After the Zora scene about halfway through the game, I don’t think I’ll be able to hear the Song of Healing again. The moon is also rather creepy looking and the screams of pain when Link puts on masks is also somewhat unpleasant. At the same time though, I also appreciate the more adult storyline of impending doom and creepy elements, which allows me to have a greater appreciation than stories that Nintendo makes that feel more aimed at the younger persuasion of gamers.
The other thing you’ll notice is the inclusion of masks, as you might’ve figured from the game’s title. All the masks in the game offer a different ability, which can range from transforming into a Goron to a mask that allows you to march animals around. Each has their unique purpose in the game and most feel necessary in some way or another to complete the story and the large amount of sub-plot. The transformations all handle differently to Link, and each offer their own unique access to certain areas of the game’s overworld. They control well too and don’t require too much adjustment to the varied play styles.
One drawback, however, is that game doesn’t really offer too much in the way of a challenge. There have been a fair few changes to stop the game from being as fiendish as the N64 original so that the game is more accessible, but you can’t help but feel like Nintendo went a little too far the other way with it. Majora’s Mask 3D isn’t unenjoyable though as a result, however, it does leave you wanting a little more from it.
Under the hood, the game runs smoothly for the most part, just like Ocarina of Time 3D, although we did come across some framerate issues (which we could recreate) on several occasions during some areas of the game, which is a little disappointing as it shows that the polish didn’t quite get everywhere. The gyroscope controls are well implanted too, and feel just as natural as you’d hope, although you’re always going to look like a bit of dork waving your 3DS around.
The locked camera is also rather annoying too, with only the “L” button there to help move the occasionally stuck camera move back behind you instead of in front. It’s remedied on the New 3DS but people sticking with the old hardware are going to have a bad time.
Whether you’re a Zelda fan or a 3DS owner looking for a solid action-adventure game, then you’ll be barking up the right tree with Majora’s Mask 3D. The improvements generally have a positive impact on the game and the story is appropriately dark. The 3-day system might put some of the explorers off and the lack of any major challenge outside the system may push away those more hardened gamers. It’s a glorious remake of one of the most fiendish games in the franchise.
– No Other Game Quite Like Majora’s Mask
– Dark Story is Appreciated
– Haunting Soundtrack
– Masks Are Satisfying, Unique Element
– It’s a Bit Easy
– Occasional Framerate Drops
Official Website: https://www.zelda.com/majoras-mask/