In June 2011 Nintendo released The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D, a 3D remake of the N64 game of nearly the same name which had been released nearly thirteen years prior. The remake saw the original game re-mastered and included the inverse dungeons known as the Master Quest. After Ocarina of Time 3D was released, some people wondered if Majora’s Mask would get the same treatment. While I had never completed Majora’s Mask on the N64, I loved the idea of bringing it to the 3DS. Sure enough Zelda fans were in for another treat when The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D was announced. The question now is if it’s still a great game after all these years?
The game starts not too long after the events of Ocarina of Time with Link riding through the forest on Epona before running into the Skull Kid who takes his Ocarina. After the Skull Kid turns Link into a Deku Scrub, Link comes across the Happy Mask Salesman who says he can help cure Link of his Deku form if he gets his Ocarina back, but also asks to retrieve Majora’s Mask, a mask that the Skull Kid stole from him. The catch is that the Salesman says he has to leave in three days, so you don’t have a lot of time. As you traverse Clock Town and eventually confront the Skull Kid, you learn just what Majora’s Mask is capable of. Apparently its power can cause the moon to ultimately crash into the land of Termina causing utter destruction…in three days time. Kind of an odd coincidence, isn’t it?
That’s what sets Majora’s Mask apart from past games in the series: you actually have a time limit to finish the game…sort of. When you get your ocarina back you re-learn the song of time from the previous game. However, it now has a new function; it can transport you through time. Playing the Song of Time at any point will allow you to return to “Dawn of the First Day” and reset the three-day cycle (the three days take roughly an hour in game time if you don't play the Inverted Song of Time). The catch is that resetting the cycle doesn’t save everything. It’ll save major accomplishments and items (such as clearing a dungeon and collecting the boss remains at the end as well as getting items such as the Bow or Hookshot), but anything that has a limited quantity will be lost, such as arrows, bombs, items in jars (you’ll retain the jars themselves), keys, and money. Money can be saved at the bank however and will remain there after going back in time for you to retrieve whenever you want.
It’s also worth noting that since you’re going back in time, you’re literally resetting things to as they were when you first hit Termina/Clock Town, including any puzzles you’ve completed and anyone you’ve talked to. Towards the beginning of the game you’ll obtain an item called the Bomber’s Notebook (the Bomber’s being a group of kids) where various events will be recorded as the game progresses, including what time the events occur. These side missions are necessary to complete everything in the game, including collecting every heart piece and mask.
I don’t normally talk about the controls all that much in my reviews, but when going from the N64 to the 3DS, the controls still feel natural to use…that is except for the swimming controls as a Zora. After going through Great Bay and the Great Bay Temple, I can safely say that I still have issues with the swimming controls. Even after realizing you can invert the swimming controls, for some reason I still had issues moving around underwater. For the record, that has no bearing on the review as that’s purely something on my end and not the game. If you haven’t played Ocarina of Time 3D but did play the N64 version of either Ocarina or Majora’s Mask, you’ll notice that the touch screen now acts as your inventory and map screen. Very useful as you can set more commonly used items to X and Y while the two boxes marked I and II can be used for items you may not be using constantly such as bottles and the Lens of Truth, and that way you can just tap them on the touch screen when you need to use them.
Majora’s Mask 3D takes advantage of the New Nintendo 3DS and the Circle Pad Pro. Sadly I have neither so I get to play this with the standard 3DS controls. This means that looking around can be a bit of a hassle as I don’t have any other way to control the camera. For non CPP/New 3DS owners, looking around is limited to holding L and moving the circle pad or the 3DS itself provided you’re not targeting anything, using the camera item you get earlier in the game, or when using the bow and arrow (the game shifts to first person perspective for this). Once you get used to it it’s not too bad, but I can only imagine that using either of the other two options would be better.
If you didn’t use the masks that much in Ocarina of Time, you’ll have to get used to them in Majora’s Mask. You have three “main” masks that you’ll constantly be using after obtaining them, as well as a bunch of other masks that have various effects. The main masks (Deku, Goron, and Zora) each give you different abilities (and instruments for that matter, though they all function like the ocarina) and are required to get used to for certain parts of the game, though they’re pretty fun to use even when not required (my personal favorite is the Deku mask). The boss fights are even structured around using the different masks to attack the boss, though most of the time they’re not required to defeat the boss. The other masks do various things like let you talk to frogs, move faster, or explode…I’m not kidding. Who needs bombs when you can become a bomb of sorts?
The ocarina will also get a lot of use in the game, probably even more so than in Ocarina of Time. On top of rewinding time back to day one, you can also use the Ocarina to advance time, slow it down, make it rain, open the temples, help certain NPCs (usually leads to getting one of the main masks), and so on. As I was playing through the game I’ll admit I had to use a guide in a couple of spots that just had me stumped and my guide of choice was ZeldaDungeon.net. I’m glad I used that because it noted quite a few differences between the N64 and 3DS versions of the game that I wouldn’t have noticed because it’s also been years since I’ve played the N64 version, so without that guide I’d have no clue what the differences were unless I specifically researched them.
Some of the differences are very minor, such as moving the bank to right across from the owl statue in North Clock Town (in the N64 version is was in West Clock Town) and adding a few more owl statues and save points. Some are a bit more impactful, such as the Song of Double Time now allowing you to pick which hour in the current day you want to go to as opposed to just going to nighttime of the current day or dawn of the next day. Then there are changes which are a bit more noticeable and impactful if you’ve played the N64 version.
From what I’ve seen, the boss fights have had some things changed. I won’t spoil anything for those who haven’t played it, but I will say that one boss became a complete joke to defeat while another became basically a new boss fight altogether (same boss, different way to fight it). I’ve read a review or two (not critic reviews) that completely bashed the game for these changes. Really, they’re not that big, and if you’ve never played the N64 version you wouldn’t notice them anyway. Even if you have played the N64 version, the minor changes are really minor while the boss changes can make for interesting fights as you have to change up your strategies.
If you’ve played Ocarina of Time but not Majora’s Mask, one thing you might notice is that the game is somewhat shorter than its predecessor as there are only four dungeons as opposed to Ocarina which has roughly eight or so. This is made up by the side missions as mentioned before. If you do each side mission, track down every heart piece, and collect every mask in the game, the game will take you a while. The dungeons themselves are really well done and, like in true Legend of Zelda fashion, have their own themes and puzzles that complement the dungeons. Each dungeon will also make use of the masks you find prior to going into the dungeon (for instance, the Snowhead Temple will see a lot of usage of the Goron Mask). Each dungeon also has a warp point at the start to go directly to the boss if you’ve already opened the boss door. However, there aren’t many times where you’ll have to refight a boss, but it’s still nice if you have to walk away from the game for a bit and just want to get back to the boss quickly.
It’s been over a decade since Majora’s Mask was released for the N64 and I can gladly say it still holds up today as an excellent addition to the series. Sure things have been changed and added, but it doesn’t take away from the core experience of the game. I will say that some of the changes do make the game easier, so I can see where some more experienced players might not like those changes, but again a lot of them are just minor and not worth getting worked up over. The graphics and 3D are really nice and the game itself is still an enjoyable experience that I’ll still go back to just like Ocarina. If you’re a fan of the franchise and especially if you enjoyed Ocarina of Time, this is one entry you don’t want to miss out on.
Just like Ocarina of Time 3D, Majora’s Mask 3D is an excellent remake of the N64 original. While some things have changed, the core gameplay experience hasn’t and it remains just as fun today as it did when I first played it over a decade ago. The three-day cycle is definitely a change of pace from past Legend of Zelda games and works very well. If you’re a fan of the series, this is one you definitely don’t want to overlook.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.