The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask was released in 2000, a couple years after The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, which goes without saying is thought of by many to be the greatest game of all-time.
Though the game featured the same engine, Majora’s Mask is also considered sort of a hit-or-miss title to fans of the series. Of course, The Legend of Zelda is a franchise with a following that’s as close to politics as it gets — when it comes to Zelda, everybody has an opinion.
Nearly four years since the release of Ocarina of Time 3D comes Majora’s Mask 3D, and whether you’re a fan of the game or not, like Ocarina of Time 3D before it, Majora’s Mask 3D is now the definitive way to enjoy this darker Zelda experience.
What Is It?
The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D is a remake of the Nintendo 64 classic. Built using pretty much the same engine and character models, the game works out as both a sequel and sort of an ode to its predecessor.
It takes place several months after the events in Ocarina of Time and for the record, thanks to “Hyrule Historia,” we can confirm that the events in Majora’s Mask tell the tales of The Dark World and Hero’s Descendants, the branch of the Zelda timeline in which the Hero of Time successfully defends the Sacred Realm and is brought back to his own time.
Anyway, the key thing to note is young Link heads back to the Lost Woods with Epona in search of his old friend, Navi the fairy. Unfortunately, he runs into two other fairies accompanying a masked skull kid, who wreaks havoc by scaring Link’s horse away, all while stealing Link’s ocarina. To make matters worse, the skull kid turned Link into a Deku Scrub.
After taking about a few days to revert to his old Hylian self, we find that Link’s trip to the Lost Woods ended with him embarking on a journey through the parallel world of Termina, a land doomed with the fate of the apocalypse due to the moon falling in three day’s time.
Of course, this is the Hero of Time. What’s three days?
Why Should I Care?
The fact that Link only has three days to save the world is really what made this game the experience it was and is. In Ocarina of Time, time only passed when out on Hyrule Field. There really was no necessity to do anything when indoors or playing through a dungeon, but in Majora’s Mask, time is always of the essence. Every second matters, and if you don’t know what you’re doing, then the moon is going to fall and lead the world into oblivion.
Early in the game, Link regains possession of the Ocarina of Time and remembers the Song of Time, which allows time to reset to dawn of the first day.
So Majora’s Mask is essentially the video game version of the film Groundhog’s Day, where Link (instead of Bill Murray) will constantly relives the same days over and over in an attempt to do everything that needs to be done to prevent the moon from falling.
Playing the Song of Time to revert back to the first day is sort of a cop out, so yes, you technically aren’t saving the world in three days, but to up the ante, the game does away with basic items in your inventory, such as weapon ammo and rupees. To save from cutting so much of your losses, the game includes a bank system where you can deposit your rupees before deciding to go back in time, and in Majora’s Mask 3D, the bank is located literally in front of the most used save point in the game, making this more convenient.
A big part of saving the world in Majora’s Mask is really getting involved in people’s lives. Early on, Link becomes a member of a young kids’ association called the Bombers, an organization dedicated to bettering the lives of people in Clock Town, as well as the rest of Termina. He gains access to the Bombers’ Notebook, which is updated whenever Link does a good deed, or a citizen has some sort of problem. Sometimes, the good deed to solving a problem would be to feed a hungry Goron, whereas other times it’ll be as complicated as purifying the waters in the poisonous swamp.
This is kind of what made Majora’s Mask‘s naysayers kind of stray away. Instead of simply focusing on the immediate adventure at hand, the developers felt it necessary to put an equal to probably even greater focus on the game’s sidequests, which really gave the game a unique feel at the time. At times, it’ll feel a little to Animal Crossing-ish, but the good deeds won’t go unrewarded.
Sometimes these deeds will grant Link rupees, or even heart pieces, but what you really want are masks. There are just over 20 masks in the game to collect, each one having a different effect including the ability to transform into other races in the Zelda universe, including Gorons and Zoras.
Another underrated feature about the masks is that they remain in Link’s inventory, so playing the Song of Time to go back in time won’t result in him losing the items making them one less chore to do when reliving the three-day period.
This is essentially what made the game fresh. You didn’t have to be Link all the time. You can be a Goron, rolling up steep hills and punching open rocks that usually would only be dealt with using a bomb. You can be a Zora and swim long distances and play guitar. The transformations each added an element of puzzle-solving that still hasn’t been replicated in any other Zelda game to this day, making the experience all the more refreshing.
What Makes It Worth My Time And Money?
If you’re looking for a “hard” Zelda, look no further. No Zelda game has been this difficult to play since, well, the original Majora’s Mask.
Both veterans and newcomers to Majora’s Mask will more than likely admit that the game is probably one of the most challenging in the entire Zelda franchise, and it isn’t just because of the 72-hour time limit. Seeing as how it’s a direct sequel to Ocarina of Time, it’s pretty much assumed that you knew every nuance of its predecessor anyway. Sure, you have some tutorials here and there, but all of them are pretty brief, because the game was initially developed for those that really turned Ocarina of Time upside-down and inside-out. To many, Majora’s Mask is the true “Master Quest.”
Of course, a lot of people will be making their first treks through Termina. To help make it more accessible, there’s a Sheikah Stone inside Clock Town’s Clock Tower, which should assist players that might find themselves stuck in the game.
A lot is often discussed about the game being relatively shorter than its predecessor, especially because it only has four dungeons, not including the stretch towards the game’s final boss. But, each of them offer sheer challenge that probably only Ocarina‘s Water Temple can be compared to. In fact, Majora’s Mask‘s version of the Water Temple, the Great Bay Temple, is one that also brings about some frustrating challenge.
More than ever, death in the game is solely to the skill of the player. On the Nintendo 64 version, a lot of my deaths were due to the fact that sometimes the camera would get caught in certain places. If you’re fortunate enough to be playing the game on the New Nintendo 3DS XL (or if you have a Circle Pad Pro), the C-Stick can actually be used to manipulate the camera, something that has been a mainstay in the series since The Wind Waker.
The game’s bosses have been retooled a little bit, but it wasn’t necessarily to make it easier. The weaknesses were basically just made more obvious. Either way, the “attack the discolored eye” strategy is one that seems to have done the series quite well over the years.
The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask is a game that has really stood the test of time, and Majora’s Mask 3D basically shrinks the experience to an even better looking, better sounding, and better playing game than ever before. This is the new definitive way of playing this masterpiece.
What makes a Zelda game memorable to me are the puzzles, dungeons, and overall attention to detail they feature, and as great as the franchise has proven to be, no other game in the series has featured the same quality in those factors as Majora’s Mask.