Hands-on with The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D

What's new and what's not in this 3DS revamp

Hands-on with The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D
Majoras Mask

Gamers often criticse Nintendo for sticking too closely to templates and formulas when making its games. How many Pokemon games start with the choice between three critters, and how many Mario games have 120 doodads to collect?

It's for this reason that Majora's Mask is so fondly remembered. After a handful of optimistic fantasy adventures with heroes, princesses, and rolling fields, the second Zelda game on N64 offered something different.

It was dark and unsettling. It's like a living nightmare, where you're never quite sure what will be around the next corner. And it's got an atmosphere of foreboding menace, which permeates the whole game.

Oh, and the moon is about to crash into the earth and obliterate the entire nation of Termina. Did I mention that? Our natural satellite has a toothy grin and crazy eyes and is barreling towards the planet. You have 72 hours to stop it.

Majoras Mask

Throughout the entire game - another fabulous adventure with deep dungeons, tricky puzzles, and intriguing side quests - a clock at the bottom of the screen ticks down until your impending doom. If you don't save the day, you'll have to rewind time and start from scratch.

It makes the game incredibly tense. It seems to be perfectly timed so you're just about to run out of minutes during the boss battle in each of the game's four dungeons, which just adds to the fear of dying to this big ugly baddy.

But it can also intimidate players. I didn't play Majora's Mask for many years because I felt I was put under too much pressure by the clock. I am a terrible baby, I admit.

Majoras Mask

This 3DS version has gone through a few changes to help alleviate the fear, but it still retains that underlying menace that makes Majora's Mask so great.

For example, in the original game you could only properly save by rewinding time back to the first day, and could otherwise only make temporary saves that were scrapped as soon as you reloaded them.

On the 3DS version you can make permanent saves anywhere and can simply reload to a previous save if you run out of time. It makes sense on a handheld, sure, but it also defangs the original game's difficulty a little - if you choose to abuse the save system.

Majoras Mask

Otherwise the game is largely the same, but efforts have been made to make things a little clearer which should let you see everything the game has to offer

Some useful changes have been made to the main side quest of the game, which is a sort of Groundhog Day style adventure in the central town where you can exploit the repeating 72 hours to be in the right place and right time to continue a bunch of little stories and quests.

As ever, you have a Bomber's Notebook to keep track of what's happening where. This thing is now easier to understand, and rumoured events show up as grey times slots. You can even pull up a map to see where you need to be, and ask Tatl to give you a nudge when the event starts so you can go take a look.

Majoras Mask

A new event notes screen catalogues and explains even more events in the game, which should help you understand the side quests and help you repeat your actions each time you flash back to the first day.

It's not completely exhaustive, so you'll still need a good memory or a notepad if you want every secret. And it's only for side quests so you're still on your own for the events of the main story.

There are some other changes. The bank (where you can store rupees so they aren't lost in the time warp) is now behind the clock tower. Ocarina songs are shown when you whip out your instrument. And an improved clock interface shows the full 72 hour stretch.

And when you use the song of time, it shows you exactly which items will be lost and which will stay with you, helping you to understand the slightly confusing system at the centre of this game.

I don't want to spoil all the changes. There are plenty more little additions and changes that will surprise fans of the original games. So you'll have to play it yourself to see what's new.

Majoras Mask

Even after all these years, Majora's Mask still stands out as something unique in the Zelda franchise and the 'dark' Twilight Princess feels like a trip to Butlin's in comparison. So it's fantastic to see it given a second chance to unsettle and impress gamers.

Especially with those gorgeous new visuals (it looks almost exactly like the Ocarina of Time remake on 3DS) and the understated stereoscopic 3D.

And while some purists might grumble about the changes made to the game, they can sleep easy knowing that Majora's Mask hasn't completely lost its fangs, and should be hopeful that the changes might let a new generation of gamers appreciate one of the best adventure games ever made.

The game's out on February 13th.

Mark Brown
Mark Brown
Mark Brown spent several years slaving away at the Steel Media furnace, finally serving as editor at large of Pocket Gamer before moving on to doing some sort of youtube thing.