The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D Review for Nintendo 3DS

The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D Review for Nintendo 3DS

Old Legend, New Face

I’ve played more The Legend of Zelda games in the last five years than I have in the 32 years I’ve been alive. I’d like to chalk it up to an influx of amazing 3DS, DS, Wii, and Wii U installments, but it’s really something else that started this trend. I went from being someone who paid little attention to Link’s every adventure to eagerly anticipating all installments, and it’s all because of Nintendo’s remakes. When I played The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D, my first time with the game, a switch was flicked. It started something and drove me to consume as many recent releases as possible.

However, as much as this new-found appreciation for an acclaimed series delights me, it’s only over the past few days that I feel like I’ve gotten something wonderful out of becoming a member of this fandom. The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D is a standout game, and even though I know from research that it wasn’t appreciated in its own time, it’s clearly a masterpiece. This isn’t only a good Legend of Zelda game, it’s an exemplary game in every respect.

The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D Screenshot

The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D takes place immediately after Ocarina of Time. Navi left Link’s side after that adventure, and he goes on a journey to find her or, failing that, closure. This leads him to Termina, where misfortune quickly befalls the boy. An imp in a mask, known as Skull Kid, steals Epona and his Ocarina. Link gives chase, which infuriates the imp. He transforms the hero into a Deku Scrub child and takes off. However, he leaves one of his sidekicks, a fairy named Tatl, behind. Tatl is a classic tsundere (who hides her affection for others behind a tough front), and agrees to accompany and aid Link so she can be reunited with her brother, Tael.

The duo find themselves in Clock Town, where a Happy Mask Salesman immediately greets Link. He’ll restore his form if Link returns with his Ocarina, but also expects the hero to recover the stolen Majora’s Mask as well. It, doesn’t go too well. Link’s human form is restored, but the Skull Kid still possesses the mask and is using it to bring the moon down to crush Termina.

The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D Screenshot

What follows is an adventure that mostly follows the traditional The Legend of Zelda formula. Link journeys throughout the land, going into dungeons to defeat bosses, awaken giants, and eventually save the beings that will help him stop the Skull Kid for good. Hacking and slashing through enemies is a requirement, as is a healthy dose of puzzle solving and being in the right place at the right time. Picking up and playing is even made easier by a plethora of Owl Statues placed in the most important areas.

Also, masks. Majora’s Mask isn’t the only facade in the game. Link can acquire and don a number of fake faces. Some are game changing, allowing Link to take on new forms with additional abilities. Others grant a new ability while worn or make it possible to complete a side quest. All of them are part of a delightful and unique mechanic that truly makes the game stand out.

The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D Screenshot

Of the 24 masks that can be accumulated in Majora’s Mask, it’s the four transformative ones that benefit the most from this remake. I had to go back and play a bit of my previous version of the game to confirm for myself, but each one is easier to use than it was in the original version. In the case of the Deku Mask, you gain an improved reticule and can see where you’ll land after taking flight. The Goron is slightly faster, curling up and attacking quicker than before. The Zora’s swimming speed has decreased, making the swimming motions flow more naturally.

Masks are only one of the game’s unique elements. The passage of time is just as important. The moon will fall on Termina after three days. The three days prior, an on-screen HUD display shows exactly what time and day it is. There is a never a moment where you don’t know exactly how close Link is to the end.

I feel I must make a confession here. I typically abhor games that attempt to lock me into a schedule. An onscreen clock sends me into a panic. My heart lived in my throat throughout Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, even after finding a Japanese guide to ensure I didn’t muck things up too badly. The time limit in the original The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask is the reason why I picked up a Virtual Console copy for my Wii, then never actually played the game. I was afraid to fail.

The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D assuages that fear. There’s still that element of “miss it and you’ll feel the world’s ending,” but the game goes out of its way to make you feel as comfortable as possible with that limit. The Inverted Song of Time slows time down and is a lifesaver for beginners, while the Song of Double Time is great for people who know what they’re doing and want to skip ahead to any hour. The Bomber’s Notebook lets someone set alarms for when events happen, to ensure you’re ready to take part. The Song of Soaring takes you from one Owl Statue to another. The clock may be ticking, but don’t let that dissuade you. You can do it.

The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D Screenshot

It isn’t only about improved, altered, or even some new gameplay elements like the fishing holes. The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D is a joy because of its improved appearance and audio. For those who care about such things, it now runs at 30FPS. More importantly, there are improved character models, environments, and textures. It looks like a whole new game. Rest assured that the Mask Salesman and Skull Kid are still two of the most unnerving characters you will meet, with disjointed movements and halting animations that set you on edge.

I believe I appreciated all of this more because I was playing on a New 3DS XL. While I firmly believe Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate should be the true poster child for this new technology, this remake shows it off admirably as well. The circle nub is a fantastic means of getting a better view of Termina or stealing a glimpse at that forboding moon. The Super Stable 3D allows you to go into first person perspective segments and still have the depth necessary to gauge distance effectively. The detail is amazing.

Unfortunately, I did notice a slight dip in quality. I played almost entirely in 3D, and if there’s an area with a lot of enemies and details and 3D is on, then there is some very minor slowdown. It isn’t terribly detrimental and doesn’t last long—just until Link reaches a new area or the 3D is turned off, but people who are expecting perfection throughout should be aware of this minor kink.

Tiny 3D hitches aside, this is an incredible game that manages to both feel and not feel like a traditional installment in the series. It’s so different, dark, and unconventional, which serves only to draw a player in more. There’s an edge to the game, and the twisted tales it tells make Link and this world seem more engaging. The Legend of Zelda is often about the struggle between light and dark, but here it seems more critical and emotional.

The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask is a must play game now, even more so than it was when it first launched. This experimental installment in the series is a boundary-expanding triumph. It challenges people’s perception of Link’s adventures and action RPGs in general. The time limit makes things feel more real, and the masks make the game more compelling. The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D may deal with dark matters, but it will light up your life.

Link, Termina, and all of its residents look incredible, especially in Super Stable 3D. 5.0 Control
It’s easy to hack and slash through the world, with customizable buttons, a touch screen item menu, and circle nub support for better camera angles. 5.0 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The soundtrack ranges from lighthearted to haunting, effectively suiting every situation and enhancing every event. 5.0 Play Value
Nintendo has managed to make Majora’s Mask 3D an even more delightful adventure than ever before, with a rich central story and array of sidequests and minigames. 5.0 Overall Rating – The Best
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.

Review Rating Legend
0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid 2.5 – 2.9 = Average 3.5 – 3.9 = Good 4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
2.0 – 2.4 = Poor 3.0 – 3.4 = Fair 4.0 – 4.4 = Great 5.0 = The Best

Game Features:

  • An ancient evil has doomed the world of Termina. Can you save it in just three days?
  • Together, the land of Termina and its citizens form one massive puzzle for Link to solve.
  • 20+ powerful masks make this one of the most varied Legend of Zelda games ever.
  • Relive Termina’s final three days from multiple perspectives.
  • Characters live out their final days independently on separate but intertwining paths.

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