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Majora's Mask: a link to the odd
Feb 13, 2015
By Daniel Barron - G4 Canada
The Legend of Zelda series has featured it all, it seems - a protagonist that fights his own shadow, a game that revolves around travelling via train, and some of the most fiercely violent chickens to ever grace a video game. Majora's Mask, though, takes strange to a whole different level.
Originally released for the Nintendo 64 in 2000, the game has been updated and re-released as Majora's Mask 3D exclusively for the Nintendo 3DS. Both the original Majora's Mask and the 3D version follow in the footsteps of the similar-yet-very-different Ocarina of Time, which was first released in 1998 and also ported to the 3DS, in 2011.
Majora's Mask is not only consistently darker than other Zelda games, it revolves around one of the most novel gameplay mechanics ever used in a video game. Link finds himself trapped in a land known as Termina, and he continually replays the same three days over and over again. A giant grinning and unblinking moon constantly stares down at Termina, moving ever-closer as it prepares to crash into the world below.
While the time-loop mechanic can be extremely frustrating - especially to someone like me who loathes time limits in games - it somehow manages to work as well in 2015 as it did a decade-and-a-half ago.
Besides looking prettier than its non-3D predecessor, the newest Majora's Mask improves in other ways. For instance, menu items are now mapped to the touch screen, and players can look around and aim in first-person view using the 3DS' motion sensors. There's a new song Link can play on the Ocarina of Time that allows the player to fast forward to any hour within the three day cycle. Sheikah Stones, meanwhile, offer hints if players become stuck.
While all these things do make for a more forgiving game, there's no doubt that Majora's Mask 3D is still very tough. Many items still disappear forever when restarting a new three-day cycle, and some puzzles are particularly tricky, even for a Zelda game.
In addition, the game released the same day as the New Nintendo 3DS, and owners of that new system are sure to have an easier time with Majora's Mask, simply because of the second analog stick, which allows for full camera control. I reviewed the game on a regular 3DS, and there were many times where I was fighting the camera during the heat of battle. You can auto-centre behind Link using the L-button, but that doesn't help much when you're in a small room with several enemies.
That said, this wasn't enough to take away from my enjoyment of the game. Despite essentially losing progress every 72 in-game hours, there are still plenty of items you acquire that you will keep indefinitely, not the least of which are the dozens of masks. Earning a new one always comes with a wonderful sense of accomplishment, even if the purpose of some of the masks isn't immediately clear.
Majora's Mask is arguably the one Zelda game most beloved by hardcore fans of the series, and those fans will no doubt flock to this updated version without a moment's hesitation.
Players who missed out on Majora's Mask the first time around should know that it's a quirkier, darker, and sometimes more frustrating entry in the series, but underneath the oddities lies an undeniably fun game. The characters, settings, and ever-evolving gameplay urges you forward even as you're forced to rewind another three days.
The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D
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