Reviews// The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D

Posted 11 Feb 2015 10:46 by
I?ve always thought people treated Majora's Mask like the black sheep of the Legend of Zelda series. It?s understandable, given the act it had to follow. Ocarina of Time was hailed as an instant classic and still tends to be viewed as the franchise's highest point to this day. Pretty big shoes to fill then.

But Majora's Mask filled them out more than anyone could?ve expected, praised by fans and critics alike. Despite that it?s never seemed to amass the same prestige as its predecessor. Even after the success of Ocarina of Time and Wind Waker?s recent-ish 3D and HD remakes, Majora's Mask never seemed 100% certain to receive the same treatment. And yet here we are, with the underrated and sometimes overlooked instalment of the series getting a new lease of life on the 3DS and the chance to impress a new generation of gamers. Which makes me feel quite old really.

While the timeline of the Legend of Zelda series remains an indecipherable mystery to most, Majora's Mask keeps things relatively simple. Following directly on from the end of Ocarina of Time we find Link ? now a child again after having saved the future and been sent back in time ? and his trusty steed Epona venturing into the mysterious land of Terminus to find Link?s infamously annoying fairy companion Navi.

Here they meet a strange trickster, wearing the frankly terrifying eponymous Majora's Mask, who steals both Link?s horse and the formerly eponymous Ocarina of Time before cursing Link and transforming him into a creepy little plant monster. While I?m on a bit of a roll I?ll mention that the eponymous Princess Zelda is notably absent from the game. And now I promise I?ll stop doing that.

Terminus will feel pretty familiar to players of Ocarina of Time. It?s not only similar in structure ? with the human city, seaside fish-people city, mountain rock-people city and forest tree-people city being connected by a sprawling field for you to ride back and forth across ? but filled with characters who are very similar-looking but entirely different in personality to those found in Ocarina of Time?s Hyrule.

And that?s possibly the first reason for Majora's Mask always having had trouble getting out of Ocarina of Time?s shadow. When it comes to the core console Zelda games, Nintendo has always made a point of giving each instalment its own unique look and setting, but Majora's Mask stuck with Ocarina of Time?s design style, even reusing most of the NPC models as new characters.

But while these 3D remakes of both games have closed the graphics quality gap between them, Majora's Mask still stands out thanks to its brilliant atmosphere. The saturated colours, creepy lighting and occasionally disturbing imagery ? especially the unforgettable face of the moon which will probably haunt your nightmares ? give Majora's Mask a much more unsettling feel than any other game in the series.

The other reasons for Majora's Mask being thought of by some as more of an Ocarina of Time expansion pack than a true sequel are definitely to do with the gameplay. At their core the two games are very similar, following the tried and true Zelda formula of making your way from dungeon to dungeon and picking up new tools and weapons that will help you solve more puzzles and advance further. But I?d say that the additional features found in Majora's Mask really help set the two games apart more than many sequels aspire to.

The first notable addition is Link?s array of physical transformations. As I mentioned, his first encounter with the Majora's Mask-possessed Skull Kid leaves Link trapped in the form of a little plant monster called a Deku. Deku Link has his own unique abilities that you?ll have to depend on for a while, including the ability to glide short distances by launching yourself out of special flowers. You?ll soon find a way to return Link to normal of course, but you?ll be granted a magical mask that will allow you to transform back into a Deku at any time.

As you continue your quest you?ll acquire further shape-shifting masks, allowing Link to transform into a Goron ? a super-strong and tough rock monster who can roll around in a ball to smash through enemies and obstacles ? and a Zora ? lithe fish people whose swimming abilities far exceed Link?s own pitiful doggy-paddling skills.

While these forms can?t make use of Link?s equipment they each have their own unique abilities that can be used to solve certain puzzles or explore new areas. These masks are of course created from the souls of recently deceased people who Link helps settle their unfinished business and cross over. Because in case I haven?t stressed this enough, Majora's Mask is really really creepy.
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Link 13 Feb 2015 01:35
ACTUALLY, Zelda isn't completely absent, she appears in a vision to re-teach the Song of Time to Link on the night of the final day at the top of the clock tower :P
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