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The black sheep of the Legend of Zelda family, and the evil twin of Ocarina of Time, Majora’s Mask is creepy, dark and addictive.
Majora’s Mask 3DS does justice to the original, proving that the fifteen-year-old classic still holds water. The game’s personality and countless side quests make it hard to put down. While the majority of Link’s quest boasts superb game design, a few areas and one specific dungeon can at times show the product’s age.
So what’s new? Those who played the game back in 2000 should for the most part find what’s familiar. Many of the changes made are simple but serve to modernise the experience. For instance, the layout in Clock Town, the game’s bustling central hub, has been revamped—it is now easier to navigate and prettier than ever before.
Some changes are far more than just aesthetic. The touch screen interface, much like Ocarina of Time 3DS, makes accessing and using your extensive inventory a breeze. Furthermore, all the bosses have a new exploitable weakness, and the latter two dungeon bosses have completely new final phases of attack. The remake even sports one brand new side quest.
The last and most important change is undoubtedly the graphics upgrade. The 3DS revitalises the Majora’s setting Termina, to a breathtaking degree. The four different regions of the game—the swamp, mountains, ocean and canyon—are brought to life with colour and more detailed textures. When looking at character models of Link or any other member of Majora’s quirky cast, you find yourself brought into their world, rather than taken out by the pixelated animations unavoidable in the late 90s.
The one issue I did take with the game’s presentation came when a friend pointed out the game’s look was a lot brighter and more optimistic than it had previously been. This is upsetting because Majora’s Mask was, and continues to be, an atmospheric and unnerving experience—the brightness so prevalent in the 2015 version slightly detracts from the game’s spookier tone.
As with most Zelda games, the plot in Majora’s Mask is understated and secondary to the personalities it gives you an excuse to meet. The antagonist, the mischievous Skull Kid, is immediately likable and easy to sympathise with. The creepy mask salesman who tasks you with retrieving Majora’s Mask is just as interesting and twisted.
Each region of Termina has a population of characters—a rock band of Zoras, a Blacksmith and his giant assistant, a gang of kids roaming the streets of Clock Town—and many feature deep side quests to complete. The player is tasked with completing these quests before the end of a three-day/night cycle; different events happen at different times of day, and a new alarm feature makes managing this easier than ever. It really seems like life in this world continues whether you’re in it or not.
The reward for making the world better is often the acquisition of a new mask. Over twenty different masks give Link abilities, from running faster to transforming into different species. These abilities will translate to being better equipped to deal with dungeons, of which there are four. The dungeons of Majora’s Mask are a great mix of puzzles and battles. It’s very rewarding to overcome a problem that has previously stumped you, with the water temple a good example of this. Unfortunately, the game’s last dungeon is prone to simple-to-solve problems that are repetitive and time-consuming. Similarly, dungeon bosses for the most part are well-designed fights with cool combat options to toy with, but the last (as a result of the remake’s new additions) often felt over-difficult and cheap.
Majora’s Mask may be one of the most underrated Zelda games, but it consistently shows itself to be one of the best, and arguably the most ambitious. Though the game may have benefitted from a few more dungeons, this is made up for with countless other activities which give it great value. The 3DS’s new coat of paint has made the already deep and absorbing world of Majora’s Mask better realised. This is a must play.