‘The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask’ 3DS game review
By Alex Stanton, Staff Writer
The Legend of Zelda—a mind-bogglingly popular series of fantasy video games by Nintendo—turned 29 years old in February. Over almost three decades, Zelda has proven itself as one of the most consistent high-quality franchises in any entertainment medium—and considering there are just over 15 titles in the series, that’s pretty commendable.
There isn’t really a general consensus as to which game is the best of the best. A lot of people would say Ocarina of Time, which brought the series to 3-D and revolutionized action adventure gaming for the new millennium. Some enjoy The Wind Waker for its gorgeous, anime-esque art style and massive world. Others enjoy absorbing the Zelda origin story and flawless gesture-based swordplay of Skyward Sword. In my opinion, the greatest Zelda game of all time is Majora’s Mask, originally released 15 years ago on the Nintendo 64 and, most recently, for the Nintendo 3DS handheld.
The story begins with Link, the hero of time. After encountering the scarecrow-like Skull Kid, he finds his magic ocarina stolen, himself transformed into a walking, talking tree called a Deku, and transported to the (almost) entirely different bizarro world of Termina. Also worth noting is the giant moon falling towards Termina that will destroy the world in 72 hours.
Majora’s Mask is, without a doubt, as dark as the franchise has been to date. Topics that were merely grazed upon in past games—grief, tragedy, and how one copes with experiencing the end of the world over and over again—are central themes here.
Story isn’t the only way this quirky Zelda game takes the road less-travelled. Like every other title, you travel through dungeons and grab tools as you go along to help you. However, this time, more than a handful of puzzles and areas will be solved and explored using the 24 unique masks, three of which when worn will transform you into a member of one of Zelda’s iconic races. The masks are central to the gameplay and story of Majora’s Mask.
The four dungeons that make up Majora’s Mask include what is widely considered the best in the franchise (Stone Tower Temple) as well as one of the worst (Great Bay Temple). Barring a few small alterations, the latter is still as needlessly complex as it was 15 years ago. But every game has its slow parts, and the rest of the game—which is finely padded with an absurd number of worthwhile collectibles and side quests—is top notch Zelda. The bosses, all of whom are too fantastic to spoil, are some of the best in gaming. This surreal, apocalyptic journey will take completionists about 30 hours.
The graphics, which were striking on the Nintendo 64, are vastly improved with the same engine that was used in the 3DS version of Ocarina. This is particularly noticeable on the new Nintendo 3DS with its far better 3-D capability and its ability to freely control the camera using the newly attached second analogue stick.
There are very few questionable changes in this remake. Majora’s Mask proves that exceptional gameplay and a well-told, mature story never becomes dated. I simply cannot recommend this game enough for any and all 3DS players.