Like most of my reviews, I’m quite late to this party, by more than just 3 days, but I’m going to review Majora’s Mask 3D regardless, in my quest to play and review all of the Legend of Zelda titles before the Dawn of the First Day in 2016.
Whenever anybody asks me about The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask I always wrestle with procuring an accurate description. “You have 3 in-game days as Link to try and stop the conniving Skull Kid, who is consumed by the twisted power of Majora’s Mask and hellbent on pulling the Moon down from the heavens to obliterate Termina, not Hyrule. Well, actually you have more than that because you can restart the clock but everything else resets too, akin to the video game version of Hollywood’s Groundhog’s Day or Edge of Tomorrow. But yeah, most items you’ve earned in those 3 days get snatched by Father Time when you reset. But…no Time doesn’t take the vital tools, like masks or weapons, because you use those to acquire further necessities in order to stop Skull Kid.” Simply put, it’s all quite chaotic and rather bizarre. While Majora’s Mask holds many of the classic ingredients to any succesful Zelda recipe, it’s not afraid to greatly stray from the beaten path. Sure, you have your captivating world, sprawling landscapes, perplexing dungeons, and endearing characters, but many of the standard features fans have come to expect from Zelda games are completely absent. Zelda herself only briefly appears as a memory, our favorite Abusive Step-Father Ganondorf doesn’t make an appearance at all, and Link isn’t some predestined Holy Hero of the Godesses who receives a lollipop every time he solves a puzzle. Rather, Majora’s Mask is surprisingly dark, gritty, and human, especially for Nintendo’s standards. Link is just some lad suddenly faced with the futile tasks of salvaging hapless love, accepting the realities of Death, ultimately saving Termina, and more in just 3 measly days. And that’s probably Majora’s Mask’s most beautiful attribute; its odd yet charming and completely unconventional style.
“I will consume…everything.”
Majora’s Mask is all about, wait for it, the masks. I bet you’re pretty surprised. While you do score some nifty items throughout your exploration of the dungeons they’re mostly just imported tools from Ocarina of Time; Link’s true progress is made through the acquiring of his collection of masks. Though most of these masks do simpler tasks, like allowing Link to sprint at top speeds or give him wicked dancing skills, there are a few that are essential to your mission. Because a multitude of citizens in Termina are a bunch of racist wankers, like the Business Scrub that will only deal with Gorons, you’re forced to hide your true identity behind the crucial transforming Deku, Goron, and Zora masks if you wish succesfully navigate large chunks of the game. The masks offer a colorful variant to Zelda’s recycled item system and therefore is one of Majora’s Mask’s most enjoyable and remarkable features. Interestingly, Link’s numerous facades serve as an poignant discussion point on the surprisingly esoteric side of Majora’s Mask, along with the futility of Link’s mission compared to the futility of life. Frued’s got nothing on these profound notions.
“You’ve met with a terrible fate, haven’t you? And guess what? It’s on you to fix both your problems as well as the rest of the world’s issues. See ya.”
When examining other Legend of Zelda titles, there’s always been the consistent theme of exploration. Despite being the hero, Link is definitively an adventurer at heart, usually prioritizing exploration and isolated battles over rushing headlong into hordes of baddies. Wind Waker opened up the high, salty seas while Twilight Princess presented a sprawling and ominous realm. The aspect of control is one of the most sought after features gamers look for, which is what makes Majora’s Mask such a curious outlier. Majora’s Mask permits the player to explore Termina, yet kicks Link in the teeth by limiting his funtime to just three days. The player is able to poke around all corners of Termina, however, most semblances of control are completely wrenched from your hands. Because the time frame is limited to those meager three days, you’re forced to choose wisely on how you parcel out the time. Purging Woodfall’s moory poison and reuniting the hapless Anju and Kafei simply cannot be accomplished in the same cycle and after resetting the clock, all achievements shall be wiped away in vain anyway. Furthermore, the game does an excellent job of leaving Link in the dark, offering minimal instruction on what the hell you’re actually supposed to do, particularly when completing sidequests. There is an accompanying fairy but instead of perpetually pestering you like Navi in Ocarina of Time, Tat’l usually just saves her words for scolding you when you screw up. The lack of instruction paired with the draining timer of the Moon makes for a refreshing change of pace from the handholding that gamers have seen more and more in games like The Order: 1886. Goddamn, I love picking on that game. Additionally, the ever-present threat of the falling Moon demands your focus, forcing the player to become engaged and oddly heedful about the fate of Termina and her miserable citizens. Majora’s Mask has an interesting way of smacking Link around with absurd limits, while at the same time, keeping the player thoroughly engaged. The player can choose Link’s path but in reality, the power lies in Skull Kid’s hands, with his 3-Day Ultimatum and yet, the game’s restrictions are what makes for such an engaging experience.
However, few games are flawless and Majora’s Mask is no exception, although my complaints are minimal. Although my usual gripe with Zelda games, managing the camera, particularly in times of combat, has actually been mostly resolved in Majora’s Mask 3D. While Z-targeting is still unwieldy and awkward (and likely forever will be), controlling the angle of the camera with the Circle Pad or the Circle Pad Pro on the New3DS makes navigation far smoother. Primarily, I took issue with the difficulty, or lack thereof, when it came time to fight the bosses. There are only four actual dungeons in Majora’s Mask so I was pleasantly surprised to discover that they were indeed sufficiently challenging. Unfortunately, I can only say the same about two of the final bosses, Gyorg and Twinmold. In the case of both Goht and Odollwa, I was left disappointed at how incredibly easy these two clowns were to defeat. Yet, I didn’t lose hope because I figured that ultimate confrontation with Skull Kid would prove to particularly memorable. I was sorely mistaken. To be totally honest, I’m not even sure if there’s a specific tactic when battling the three stages of the final boss: Majora’s Mask, Majora’s Incarnation, and Majora’s Wrath. Upon the eve of the battle, Link is granted the final and most badass mask of them all, the Fierce Diety Mask, and your ready to kick some ass in the fight of your life. You’ve been shoved around by Skull Kid and his shenanigans for far too long now and now you’re ready to dish out some Fierce justice. However, upon entering the final showdown, I discovered my epic struggle with this ancient power consisted of merely spamming B and then suddenly winning the battle. That was it. What was supposed to be a grand duel was actually an incredible letdown.
I was honestly expecting a tougher face-off between these two.
Overall though, I have very minimal to complain about. These imperfections are few and far between. While I am a tremendous fan of The Legend of Zelda franchise, I strive to keep my reviews as unbiased as possible which is why I can shamelessly say that it is not very often that gamers get to experience such a fantastic work of art. Not only is Majora’s Mask utterly dissimilar to all other Zelda titles, but it also stands out from most other games in general. In an age where Ubisoft annually churns out rehashed versions of Parkour the Tower to Unlock the Map, Majora’s Mask 3D is a refreshing drink of spring water. It is definitely worth picking up at full price and engaging enough to play through numerous times. As a result, I find Majora’s Mask 3D has the super Heart Rate of…