Monday
May252015

QCF: The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3DS

 was on the fringe end of the crowd that played the original Majora's Mask growing up. Admittedly, I never really got into the game that much. The moon terrified me, and the three-day countdown instilled a sense of panic in young me that almost seems irrational now.

So while some Zelda fans approached this game as a nostalgic journey into a childhood classic, I entered into Majora's Mask 3D hoping to find something in the game that had escaped my 10 year old self.

After spending some time with The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D,  I can confidently say that 10 year old Alissa was an idiot for not absolutely falling in love with this game at first sight.

After saving the kingdom of Hyrule in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Link sets off in search of his fairy friend Navi, who disappeared during the end of Ocarina—Majora's Mask picks up here and starts with a depressed Link riding his horse through the woods. Moments later, Link is ambushed by a masked Skull Kid and robbed of his horse, ocarina, and that last bit of his dignity. Link chases after the Skull Kid but is then turned into a Deku Scrub, mocked a bit more, and make privvy to the Skull Kid's plan to bring the moon crashing down to the earth in three days’ time.

Obviously, it's then up to Link to find a way to fight the clock and defeat the Skull Kid before he crashes the moon into the land of Termina—just another day in the life of the Hero of Time.

The game is heavily dependent on the flow of time. The main objective of the game is to rescue the four giants from their respective dungeons and stop the moon from crashing down, but Majora's true experience comes from its numerous optional sidequests. On paper, all of this seems like a ton to cram into three in-game days, but really you have all the time in the world.

This time around, Link is able to control the ebb and flow of time by playing different songs on his ocarina. The events of Majora's Mask occur in three day cycles, but you're free to rewind, fast-forward, or slow time as much as you need to get the job done.

Rewinding back to the dawn of the first day resets the world entirely, including any quest or dungeon progress you've made. At first, the reset can be a bit annoying, but once you get a grasp of the world it becomes one of Majora's Mask's most endearing features. People and events are tied to unchanging daily schedules, which can all be tracked in-game from your Bomber's Notebook. Some quests are as simple as being in the right place at the right time, while some require you to be in certain places across the world at specific points throughout the three day cycle, but all of them contribute to creating a game filled with rich characters and rewarding experiences.

While many sidequests are optional, most reward you with items that make the main storyline easier to complete. Along with his usual arsenal of arrows, jars, and weaponry, Link now has a library of masks that would put a seasonal Halloween store to shame. Masks vary from aesthetic altering, to game changing, but each has a use and a place.

Three masks sit central to the game's primary storyline. As he inches forward in dungeon completion, Link is able to acquire masks that transform him from his native Hylian form into that of a Deku, Goron, or Zora hero. Each race has its own physical advantages and disadvantages. Knowing what form to use for certain situations, and when to hot-swap between multiple forms, adds a suprising amount of complexity and depth to puzzles and combat throughout the game.

The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D is quite obviously a rerelease of the original game for the Nintendo 64 way back in the day, and luck would have it that Majora's Mask 3D has launched for both 3DS, and New 3DS. As a broke college student with questionable budgeting abilities, I was only able to play Majora's Mask on a 3DS XL. But even without the N3DS's upped processing power, the game contains some very notable graphical upgrades.

Link himself looks fantastic. His and other character models in the game all look and move smoother this time around. Even the infamously angular chests of the fountain fairies have been toned down to a more round and realistic shape. The smoothness of the overall game is only highlighted when using the 3DS's 3D feature. Majora's Mask in 3D presents the perfect blend of depth and movement. While playing with my 3D turned about half way up, I never had the feeling that the landscapes of Termina were anything but beautiful.

Majora's Mask 3D takes advantage of every feature the 3DS has to offer. New 3DS users are able to use the handheld's c-stick nub to control the camera, while those of us playing on older systems have to rely mostly on the auto-camera and L-Targeting. Aiming Link's various projectile weapons can be done the old-fashioned way, or by using the 3DS's gyroscopic sensors to aim by physically moving the handheld itself. Written down, that sounds cumbersome, but I actually preferred using the movement based aiming in some situations. It's usually much quicker to press a button and point than it is to use the circle-pad to aim the reticle.

The entire lower screen takes the role of Majora's Mask's start menu, but, unlike its N64 predecessor, it is always active. A map hangs out in the center of the touchscreen and is surrounded by buttons on the left, right, and bottom edges. Some are static and cannot be changed, like the buttons for the inventory, map, and ocarina. Others, like the 4 along the right side of the screen, can be assigned to any item from Link's inventory. These buttons are never beyond your reach and make the controls feel more simplified on the 3DS without losing an ounce of function.

 

The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D improved greatly upon what some would call, one of the finest games in the Zelda series. The game flawlessly combines time travel with a robust and lively world that always has something to offer. Majora's Mask takes many complex ideas and executes them skillfully. Though controlling the camera takes some practice, Majora's Mask feels right at home on the 3DS. The 3D and visual upgrades only add a glossy coat of paint over what already was a masterfully crafted experience.

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