Majora's Mask 3D is a beautifully remastered port of one of the best entries in the Zelda series. Along with a fresh coat of rendering come fluidly redone animations, fresh takes on boss battles, and the same time-based, mask-swapping, side-questing gameplay that you either loved or hated the first time around.
+Thankfully, minimal touch-screen integration
+New twists on boss battles, so you have something new to figure out
+Gameplay transfers very well to the 3DS, much like Ocarina of Time 3D
+There's a fishing mini-game. Bitches love fishing mini-games
-For a die-hard fan, some changes might be annoying
-Fluid camera controls only work with a Circle Pad Pro
-Streamlined Bomber's Notebook now mangled to incorporate any and all quests; storyline based or not
I have historically been a massive fan of Majora's Mask. To take something like the Legend of Zelda and steep it in death, darkness and mystery was tantalizing to me, and the ominous sense of foreboding it had against Ocarina of Time's straightforward dungeon-crawling Zelda-ness was so different. I don't fight people who say they couldn't get past the time-constraint gameplay, because it was actually always a gimmick that I hated, too.
I can understand the complaints against this iteration, but for me (and seemingly only this once) it really worked. I had a constant driving force to pack as much as I could during a day. I was making note of schedules and setting for myself three-day itineraries. If I could be this productive in real life, I'd feel a hell of a lot better about parking myself in front of the TV with a bag of Doritos every night.
When Ocarina of Time 3D came out, I vowed that this meant it was only a matter of time until Majora's Mask got the same treatment. The port included in the Zelda Collection for Gamecube felt a bit like lip service, heavily due to the fact that they couldn't port it properly and the game often suffered from really irritating lag. By contrast, this game had some real heart and soul poured into it, and I'm glad that my anticipation wasn't wasted. Having it on a portable platform makes it even more dangerous, sneaking in those stray fairy hunts at work and whipping it out whenever my boyfriend left the room to get as much done in those 45-second increments as I could. Hell, even as I'm writing this, I'd rather just be playing some more.
Majora's Mask 3D got the star treatment, not only with re-rendered textures and redone animations to get rid of that terrible mid-'90s polygonal jerkiness (which is a great game soundtrack cover band name, you're welcome) but with actual new content for people like me who have played this through five times already, there's a couple new features that at least offered a fun refresher. Gameplay is still the same; Epona gets stolen, Link falls down a hole, Tatl is a pushy little runt, and Link has three days to solve everyone's problems.
The gameplay transfers very fluidly to the 3DS; there's very little to have to get used to as far as button placement goes. Motion aiming makes its return, which is a nifty little feature, but one that I personally turned off pretty much straight away. Even use of the touch screen is very minimal. It's used to access your items and masks and equip them, and also shows your map on the lower screen. Because everything is displayed on the lower screen, the top screen remains wonderfully open instead of being bogged down with your equipped items, rupee count and hearts.
In fact, even the clock has been parsed down significantly, replacing the original's fancy one-day-at-a-time clock style to a simple bar showing the time between all three days. One very specific gameplay function I really loved to see introduced was that when using the Song of Double Time, instead of automatically jumping you ahead one half-day, you can now choose when to jump forward by one-hour increments; waiting a full six hours for Sakon to rob the old lady in North Clock Town is now a thing of the past, as now you can just choose to jump straight to midnight.
As far as new content goes, they definitely didn't go hog wild with everything. They've included a fishing mini-game this time around, where you get to choose between the normal lure or the sinking lure, because I guess in Termina, the dude at the fishing hole isn't such a Lure Nazi. It's a nice way to kill a bit of time, for sure.
One thing I learned pretty quickly is the fact that they also changed strategies for boss battles. Going up against Odolwa at the beginning, I couldn't figure out why my old tactics weren't doing a damn thing, while the bastard just kept dancing around. This is one time that listening to my irritating fairy companion actually paid off, because I didn't notice the great big target eyeball on the top of his head; so instead of firing off arrows and tossing bombs, I had to slap on my Deku mask, plant myself in a flower, launch myself up above him and shit deku nuts on his head. It was pretty satisfying. Goht was still pretty straightforward, whereas Gyorg was considerably different from the original battle. All in all, it was a very nice change to the very familiar.
Nintendo also gave the very helpful Bomber's Notebook a complete overhaul, which is going to lead nicely into my section of Things I Got Very Nitpicky About.
They did change a few very specific things around in ways that irked me a bit. Zora Link, for example, will now only swim at full-speed when you use his lightning barrier. There was just a bit of lag whenever I encountered a Garo at Ikana Castle. And, yes, they changed the Bomber's Notebook.
Whereas in the original, it was a neat little extra that helped you track side quest characters' schedules and who you got what from, this time around it incorporates pretty much every single thing you do, whether it's side quest-related or something you have to do to further the story; you get the notification that you met a dude inside a toilet who needs something to wipe with, thus telling you that you should find something paper-y so you can get a heart piece. On the other side of the coin, the book updates you to say that you have a Deku Princess in a bottle, and thus should bring her back to the palace. Well, no shit.
It seems to be a trivial thing to be bothered by, but the notebook seems like a really cluttered concept to me now. There are new perks associated with it, though; when you have access to someone's schedule, you can open up your notebook to a specific time during and set an alarm through Tatl that'll remind you that you have to, say, go talk to Madame Aroma at X o'clock on the last day. As well, the Bombers of Clocktown are themselves your little helpers, giving you little hints along the way that gets added to your notebook. This is one change I'm actually pretty grateful for, because with that I would never have found one mask location that they decided to change for no reason.
The only other complaint I have is actually about the latest camera controls. They're really smooth, don't get me wrong, but they're bundled separately; you only get to adjust your camera angle if you slap on a Circle Pad Pro. Now, old N64 port notwithstanding, functional camera controls are so crucial to modern gameplay, it's really unfortunate that you have to throw down $20 extra on top of the game price to be able to look a little to the left without physically turning Link and L-targeting to get the right angle.
All in all, picky annoyances aside, this is a fantastic game that I played all the way through with renewed vigour. I'm always happy to throw down on Majora every couple years for a few days, but now and finally, it gets the re-release that this fantastic game truly deserves.
Review based on a 3DS version of the game, supplied by the Publisher.