Link’s most unusual adventure is remade.
To coincide with the launch of Nintendo’s rather excellent new handheld on February 13th, the New Nintendo 3DS, it makes sense that they also release at least a couple of new games to take advantage of the new features and get players excited about the launch, not to mention giving rise to some lovely bundles. One of those titles is the sure to be popular Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate. The other game of note just happens to be one of the most interesting and unusual games in the Zelda series, remade especially for the New Nintendo 3DS.
The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask was originally launched some 15 years ago on the N64 console, and quickly became a fan favorite. Since then it has been ported onto most of Nintendo’s subsequent consoles and likely has been enjoyed by millions of players. Few Zelda fans would suggest that Majora’s Mask is the best Zelda game ever made, but there is no doubt that it is the most unusual, and this is what makes it special.
Following on from Ocarina of Time, Link finds himself in the land of Termina and falling foul of a strange adversary known as the Skull Kid. This slightly crazed enemy has stolen a mask, the mask of the title, which grants him great power which he uses to transform Link into a Deku Scrub. While this is an inconvenience and something which Link will have to address in the early part of the game, the Skull Kid’s other plans are far more nefarious and will require Link’s extended attention to sort out.
Thanks to the Skull Kid, an unpleasant grinning moon is falling from the sky and is set to destroy the land of Termina in just three days. This means that you, the player, have only 72 hours to save the world. No pressure then…
But fear not, things are not as bad as they seem. Alongside the action RPG gameplay that we all know and love from the Zelda games, including completing side quests and exploring dungeons, Majora’s Mask has the key mechanic that lets the player zip back to the beginning of the 72 hour period, taking with them much of their progression, thus extending the time they have to prevent this apocalyptic event.
When the player travels back in time, they take with them various key items that they have come across, any masks they have gathered, heart containers and rupees that have been stored in the bank. But more importantly as the world around Link resets, the player takes back knowledge of what is going to happen, where things are and what to do. It is a bit mind-bending at times, and the clock continues to tick away forcing the player to fit in as much progress as they can within that 72 hour period, but it forces more focused gameplay where the player has to plan what they are doing and always be aware of the time.
With this extended time, the player will come to know their surroundings quite well, along with the inhabitants of Termina. Side quests will be gathered, many of which the player will not be able to complete until further into the game when the player has gained new abilities or further knowledge. There are various different masks to be obtained, giving the player different abilities, and the player also has the chance to travel forward in time, should they require.
In fact, the traveling forward in time is one way that The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D differs from the original game. Whereas before the player was limited to traveling forward in blocks of 12 hours, now the player has the freedom to jump to a more specific time, reducing the amount of waiting around for an event to begin. Another of the many little changes which are presumably designed to make the game more mobile friendly, is the ability to save at any time rather than just when the player goes back to the beginning.
The bomber’s notebook, which makes an attempt to keep track of things for you, has been upgraded and now keeps track of much more information, making it much easier to know where to go and what to do at what time. And there is even an alarm of sorts that warns the player an event is about to begin. While these enhancements to the game may only be begrudgingly accepted by the hardcore fans who have played the game multiple times already on different systems, for the newcomers they are surely welcome. The task remains daunting, but is perhaps a little easier than it used to be. There are other little changes as well, such as the chance to go fishing and the ramping up of the boss battles.
Obviously the main differences come in the presentation. The visuals have been upgraded throughout, resulting in the best looking version of this game and one worthy of launching alongside the New Nintendo 3DS. The gameplay all happens on the upper screen, with the bottom screen left for displaying maps and such, and the new C-stick makes navigating the game on the New Nintendo 3DS a joy. Overall, Majora’s Mask 3D looks simply stunning. And the upgrades don’t stop there as the audio work has also been improved and sounds great on the new handheld.
Much like most of the past Zelda games, Majora’s Mask is a classic and one that really sticks in players memories due to its unusual nature. The time traveling mechanics mean it will not suit all players, but fans of the Zelda games really need to add this to their collection. The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D is an impressive remake that fully deserves its place alongside the launch of Nintendo’s new handheld.