As soon as the remake of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time released, fans were wondering if Zelda 64’s sequel would get the same graphical update and refinement. It was a long wait but in 2015 The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D was released worldwide. Along with Monster Hunter 4: Ultimate, these two games were huge incentives to drive sales of the “new” 3DS and “new” 3DS XL. The shiny new hardware and revamped adventure of Majora’s Mask 3D sold like hotcakes and the “new” 3DS was a huge success.
Majora’s Mask 3D sold around three million copies as of late 2016, which isn’t bad for a remake of a 15-year-old N64 game. However, the remake had many critics, basically, Nintendo had been developing the remake for longer than people expected. They added a variety of changes that made the game much more accessible (and easier). Because of this, the hardcore purists weren’t pleased and loads of YouTubers also jumped on the bandwagon. But, is the remake really a lesser version? Let’s start by having a look at the original – what it did right and where the problems are.
Fear, Loathing And Time Management
Majora’s Mask was developed around a year straight after Ocarina of Time was finished. It was the first Zelda game that now fabled developer, Eiji Aonuma, directed. Because of the short development time, assets were reused and the world was more condensed, based on meaningful side quests that actually make a difference in the game world. The recycling of assets and its three-day time system turned out to be a masterstroke, as it helped to create the game’s uniquely strange and foreboding atmosphere.
So, the game is great there is no doubt about that. But, there are also major flaws in the original. For one, the ocarina songs to move forward, or slow down, time aren’t clearly accessible, so the game becomes even more difficult than it already is if you don’t have a guide telling you these things. Other negatives are the lack of savepoints, clattered Bombers’ Notebook (a diary that helps you log events as the three-day cycle progresses), and imprecise controls (which it shares with the original Ocarina of Time) in comparison to the 3DS version. Basically, the flaws of the original just make it highly inaccessible. Add to this the fact that an N64 expansion pack was required to even play the game and what you get is a lot of sad kids and pissed off parents (back in 2000). These are the reasons Nintendo took such care and time to remake Majora’s Mask for 3DS.
Quality Of Life Improvements
The most obvious change in the 3DS remake of Majora’s Mask is the graphics. Similarly to Ocarina of Time 3D, textures and models have been completely updated. I’d go as far as saying Majora’s Mask 3D looks slightly better than Ocarina of Time 3D. It’s in the gameplay where the most important changes have been made. The Bombers’ Notebook (time diary) has been completely revamped and is much easier to use now. Also, there are around three times the amount of savepoints and you don’t need to reset the time cycle to permanently save like in the original.
The bosses have also been changed by having certain huge eyes that appear when they are vulnerable (kind of like Malice from Breath of the Wild), I’ve heard some people say that these “Malice Eyes” make the bosses easier, and some say harder, but for me, it just made them more enjoyable. The following is what really pissed people off – you now don’t need to hold the button for Goron Link to spike roll, Zora Link has a new, slower swimming animation, and Deku Link’s water bounces are no longer based on how fast he was previously moving (basically it’s easier to control Deku Link on water). For me, these changes to character mechanics didn’t really make a difference and, in fact, I prefer the more precise, less clumsy controls. Also, as with Ocarina of Time 3D quality of life improvements such as easier bow aiming make the game a much more pleasant experience.
Positive Or Negative Gameplay Changes?
So, Majora’s Mask 3D is much more accessible to newcomers than the original because of all the changes. Purists don’t seem to like the changes and I can understand that, but the 3DS version is the definitive version in my opinion. My history with Majora’s Mask is complex, I first got it as a kid in 2000 but couldn’t get past Great Bay Temple and it lay dormant in my memory for years. In 2009, I picked up the virtual console Wii port and finally finished it. When I was small, I couldn’t get into the game. I wanted Ocarina of Time 2 and what we got was Zelda Gaiden. When I replayed it on Wii and finally beat it, I understood, and now it’s one of my favorite games of all time.
I have obviously played it on 3DS and I honestly prefer that version. It’s mainly because of the quality of life improvements. I know that the game is designed to facilitate the player to be anxious and rush while playing, but I feel the easier time management brings the game into the modern era in terms of accessibility. Both the original and remake are great games but one thing is for certain, they’ll never be a game with the same kind of emotional impact as The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask.