For a long time, I didn’t think this day would come, but I’ve spent the past week diving into every detail of Majora’s Mask 3D. I was caught completely off guard when Nintendo announced they were remaking one of my favorite Legend of Zelda games, and even more surprised when they told me I’d be playing it in February of 2015. Now that I’ve had a chance to play through most of the game – one week hasn’t given me enough time to complete the entire game – I’m just speechless.
I’ve spoken to a couple of people about my experience with Majora’s Mask 3D so far, but it’s hard to put it into words. Inside, I’m ready to burst with emotion to show how much I love this game. Majora’s Mask was already special, but Majora’s Mask 3D is just… perfect? Perhaps not, but it’s as close to perfect as Majora’s Mask is ever going to be. Nintendo has carefully addressed every major complaint that players had about the original game, and then they’ve tweaked everything else as well.
Stress-free, convenient Zelda
One of the most common complaints I frequently heard about Majora’s Mask is that the three day time limit is stressful, and then it’s coupled with a comment about how saving is very inconvenient. Both of these things are features fans of Majora’s Mask learned to manage a long time ago, but that doesn’t make them any less true. There were multiple occasions where I found myself running out of time in the middle of a boss fight, and even more when I missed a certain time and had to start over from the First Day to complete a sidequest. Saving never bothered me as much as a kid, but I had a ton of time to play video games back then. If I had been a working adult at the time, I would have been irritated at the still-inconvenient quick-save feature and the requirement that I travel back to the Dawn of the First Day to really save.
Majora’s Mask 3D fixes both of these problems. While the three day time limit still exists, it’s much easier to manage this time around. Nintendo has changed the tools you use to manipulate time so that you never feel rushed. The key to this is a revised Song of Double Time. In the original Majora’s Mask, the Song of Double Time allowed you to skip to the following day or night. In Majora’s Mask 3D, the same song allows you to choose exactly which hour of the day you want to skip foward to (you cannot move backward through time with the song). It’s a simple change that has a huge effect.
When I first played Majora’s Mask, I fell in love with the sidequests. My favorite is typical: the famous Kafei and Anju sidequest. I spent hours as a kid standing around Clock Town waiting for events to happen. I’ve never done that in Majora’s Mask 3D. If the event starts at 4:00pm, I just play the Song of Double Time and skip to the right time. The Kafei and Anju sidequest has always been long; even a player who wants to complete only the required portions of the quest could spend nearly an hour completing it in Majora’s Mask. In Majora’s Mask 3D, I can complete the same sidequest in less than 20 minutes.
Saving has also be adjusted to be as convenient as save points can be. The owl statues that acted as quick-save points in Majora’s Mask now act as actual save points. Additional save points have been added throughout the game at the entrance to every dungeon and village. Traveling back to the First Day no longer saves the game at all; it’s done exclusively through save points.
The Bombers’ Notebook: the most important new feature
The Bombers’ Notebook always existed in Majora’s Mask. It was a simple schedule that tracked 20 different characters and helped you complete major sidequests. In Majora’s Mask 3D, the Bombers’ Notebook has received as massive overhaul. It bears little resemblance to the Notebook from the original game. The only term that accurately describes the new Bombers’ Notebook is “quest log”.
Majora’s Mask has tons of sidequests, but they weren’t always easy to find. I had a strategy guide when I first played the game that helped me learn where the sidequests were located. Without it, I don’t know how I would have ever found some sidequests without accidentally stumbling upon them. Majora’s Mask 3D has added rumors; small bits of information that the Bombers, a gang of boys whose goal is to help the people of Clock Town, give you about almost every event in the game. The rumors are added to the Bombers’ Notebook to help you remember quests you have not done, and these rumors are very extensive. Pieces of Heart? It’s in the Notebook. Masks? It’s in the Notebook. Rupees? Sometimes, even events that reward rupees are in the Notebook.
I sincerely hope that the new Bombers’ Notebook is the foreshadowing of an extensive quest log in Zelda U later this year.
The Bombers’ Notebook also includes the schedules of characters like the original game, but it’s not the same 20 characters. More characters have been added. You can also set alarms to give you even more assistance managing your time.
The Bombers’ Notebook is without a doubt my favorite part of Majora’s Mask 3D. I could talk all day about how much it has added to my enjoyment of the game. It makes the game world feel alive, and leaves me feeling like there’s always something to do – even if I don’t really want to complete a dungeon. I sincerely hope that the new Bombers’ Notebook is the foreshadowing of an extensive quest log in Zelda U later this year.
Controversial changes… and fishing
While I have thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of Majora’s Mask 3D, as I played through the game there are two changes that I noted would probably upset some fans. The first has already been seen in multiple trailers and gameplay demos since the game was announced: the dungeon boss fights are different.
I’ve found my experiences with the new bosses to be very appealing. I believe the Odolwa and Gyorg fights are much improved over their predecessors. The fight with Goht is weaker than the original, but I understand why the changes were made. The new fight helps eliminate the feeling from the original that you were, quite literally, chasing Goht around in circles without making progress.
The second controversial change that hasn’t made as many waves yet is that the Zora Link swimming controls are different. The fluid, fast swimming from the original is no longer the default. Instead, swimming is slower and more precise. While I enjoy swimming around Great Bay like a dolphin as much as the next guy, I think the swimming change is for the better. The fluid swimming serves almost no purpose in the game, and actually made it harder for me to maneuver when swimming was required.
The fluid swimming is still present, but it is now activated when you use the electric aura attack, which consumes Magic Power. In my time with the game, this has never been a problem – because the fluid swimming is rarely required.
The last major change to the game that I’m going to mention is the inclusion of two fishing holes. Nintendo has made a point to make sure we’re aware that these fishing holes exist, but I’m not sure why. I’ve never really cared for fishing in Legend of Zelda games, and these new fishing holes have not done anything to improve the formula. Now, instead of catching one large fish for a reward, like in Ocarina of Time, I’m supposed to catch 20 different types of fish… because it’s fun? I’ll be spending more time in the fishing holes, but so far I have found no reason to dedicate significant time struggling with Zelda-style fishing.
No detail left untouched
This time, Link did not meet with a terrible fate.
Majora’s Mask 3D is everything Ocarina of Time 3D was not. It’s a carefully crafted remake of a video game I already respected; no detail has been left untouched. Nintendo has addressed every player complaint from the original Majora’s Mask – even the most minor. I cannot begin to write down all of the changes made to the game, but what I can say is that it is far, far more than I ever expected. This time, the developers went above and beyond and have crafted what I already consider the definitive version of Majora’s Mask. This time, Link did not meet with a terrible fate.