Thursday, 19 February 2015

The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D

Despite The Legend of Zelda being such a well know and renowned series- even among people who wouldn't really call themselves “gamers”- Majora's Mask isn't as widely known as other entries. A direct sequel to The Ocarina of Time, Majora's Mask was originally released on the Nintendo 64 back in 2000. Whether it was the fact that the Nintendo 64 was failing in terms of sales or that Majora's Mask could only be played while using an Expansion Pack, the game sold considerably less than The Ocarina of Time upon release. So while many know about its existence, I really don't think it has been played by enough people out there. So instead of shelling out for an Nintendo 64, the Expansion Pack that connects to the controller and the game itself... Nintendo have just remade Majora's Mask for the 3DS. Joy!

Developed by Nintendo and out now on 3DS comes The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D, a genuine improvement on an already perfect game, if that's at all possible. The game opens up some time after the end of The Ocarina of Time, with a tired looking Link atop his trusty horse Epona searching for Navi; the little helpful/annoying fairy that stayed by his side during his previous adventure. However, while searching through a forest in Hyrule, Link is ambushed by a Skull Kid, a masked child that wears the titular Majora's Mask on his face. With help from his own faeries, Skull Kid steals both Epona and Link's Ocarina, while also turning Link into a Deku Scrub. After this Link finds himself in the land of Termina, which essentially acts as a parallel universe to Hyrule. Compared to Hyrule the land of Termina is dark, somewhat bleak and faces an impending cataclysmic event- the moon is going slam into the planet in 3 days. Using the power of time travel to stave off planetary destruction and various mysterious masks that will change his abilities, Link must find the Skull Kid and stop the moon from its devastating descent. 

The basis of the gameplay in Majora's Mask 3D essentially follows what The Ocarina of Time and the series as a whole set in place; exploring towns, areas and dungeons, going head-to-head with various enemies and bosses, gradually unlocking new and exciting loot over the course of the game and solving puzzles, while always falling under the guise of the third-person Action-Adventure genre. From chopping down tuffs of grass with your sword, using your bow and arrow in first-person mode to blocking Deku Srcub seeds, at its heart it's the same old Zelda you know and love. However, there are two main additions to gameplay that The Ocarina of Time glanced over that Majora's Mask 3D runs with- time travel and masks.

Now anyone who has played The Ocarina of Time knows that it heavily utilised an awesome time travel mechanic, but Majora's Mask 3D focuses on this concept. With a time limit of 3 days until the moon smashes into the Earth, this translates to around an hour of gameplay. To fend off certain death the player will need to keep reversing time by playing “The Song of Time”, a song learned by Link in The Ocarina of Time. This resets the clock back to 6am on the first day, and though major accomplishments will remain, smaller ones are wiped from existence. This effectively forces you to play the game with time and item management in mind. With a mere hour of game time to play with, you'll find yourself speed running dungeons, hastily putting all acquired Rupees into the bank and nervously trying to beat a boss while the death clock is mere minutes away from reaching zero. It pushes you to play smarter while not completely boring the shit out of you, or make you feel like the game is a chore. Also, once the clock resets virtually every character you previously interacted with will have no knowledge of who you are. This adds an extra layer of atmosphere to the world of Termina, which right from the start is already interesting, creepy and incredibly exciting to explore.

Then you have masks, the other main hook of Majora's Mask 3D. Another idea briefly covered in The Ocarina of Time but expanded upon here greatly, there are 24 obtainable masks in Majora's Mask 3D. Each mask gives Link a unique ability and radically transforms his appearance. However, these masks are not only for an added visual flair, as some masks are vital to progressing through the game. For instance, the Zora mask allows Link to swim faster and breath underwater, the Goron mask gives Link tremendous strength and makes him invulnerable to fire and lava, while the creepy looking Stone mask turns Link invisible.

Additions to gameplay in this updated 3DS version of Majora's Mask are slight but welcomed. Most noticeably are the graphics, which have been given a major overhaul. 3D models are more detailed, textures are a higher resolution and the games draw assistance has been greatly improved. Other improvements come in the form of various game areas that have been expanded or slightly altered, Owl Statues that now permanently save your game, the item system has been reworked, you now have the ability to save more games and, of course, the fact that you can now play the game in stereoscopic 3D. These changes and additions aren't so extreme that the game doesn't look or play like the Majora's Mask you loved back in 2000, but rather just enough to make the game feel new and fresh. I loved the game back in the day, but this remake ticks all the right boxes. Buy it.

The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D is an improvement on a perfect game and gets a 5/5.


Denis Murphy

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