Back in 2011, the legendary Ocarina of Time was magnified by the redesign of 3DS, so it was a natural thing to entrust the second iconic Legend of Zelda adventure once again to Grezzo: Majora’s Mask. Did the Japanese studio managed to repeat such a success with the Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, especially with the gaming expectations of today?
During the days of the Nintendo 64, Majora’s Mask was one of the few title to use the full capacity of the Nintendo console, using the memory expansion pack, adding a substantial technological evolution. History tends to repeat itself for the Nintendo 3DS, and Majora’s Mask is headlining the launch of the improved variation of the handheld console. This remastered version of the game is aimed at the New Nintendo 3DS (and 3DSXL), adding more gameplay element true to the old Nintendo 64 controller, as well as 3DS based features such as the automatic stereoscopic 3D. Between the newly added – microscopic – C-stick allowing better camera movement, the L button to center the viewing angle, and the second screen becoming the item inventory, Ocarina of Time almost feels like it was made for the Nintendo handheld.
This remastered version of the game is aimed at the New Nintendo 3DS (and 3DSXL), adding more gameplay element true to the old Nintendo 64 controller
Nevertheless, on the opposite of Ocarina of Time 3D, Majora’s Mask is not a simple port to give an enhanced resolution. The characters were redesigned with more polygons, while textures are considerably richer and gaining finesse, despite a noticeable aliasing. Similarly, lights and reflections projected in real time give a more sophisticated illusion, that changes according to the time and weather changes. Finally, the expanded color palette, with less Nintendo 64 garish tones, highlights the singular nature of this universe. Majora’s Mask has been graphically redesigned as a whole, formerly represented by rudimentary veneers bitmap background and now modeled in 3D. Naturally, these additional details request more memory and processing resources, which results in small frame rate drops, especially when displaying many objects at the same. However, these inconveniences are very rare, and do not tarnish the game experience. Therefore there is a feel that it is time to literally rediscover Majora’s Mask.
The melancholy atmosphere and disturbing protagonists bode already the dark side that appeared openly in Twilight Princess, filled with a maturity reflected through the overall structure of the epic adventure
Since many of the core elements are unchanged, like cut-scenes with the lack of voice acting, the austere narrative approach to the series constitute another debate, since Grezzo studio are especially careful not to distort the original work. An absolutely wonderful job of remastering a title, Majora’s Mask is a pleasantly familiar tune for old players, while giving the impression to newcomers to delve into a new game. It must be said that the content of this work remains surprisingly contemporary, even after nearly fifteen years of its birth. The melancholy atmosphere and disturbing protagonists bode already the dark side that appeared openly in Twilight Princess, filled with a maturity reflected through the overall structure of the epic adventure. Rather than multiplying the dungeons – an escalation anyway excluded at the time because of short development time – these are integrated in the different regions, which themselves form dungeons environment that are more or less open, as it was the case in the Wii release of Skyward Sword. This does not preclude the Termina plain which looks more like a hub, but remember that this world is explored through another dimension, one based on time.
Grezzo studio are especially careful not to distort the original work
For the record, the game story extends to over 72 hours, after which the evil moon will collide with the earth, causing its destruction. Faced with this initially inexorable outcome, which also creates an atmosphere of increasing dramatic as the days and nights pass, the Ocarina of Time remains a fundamental tool. This instrument still allows to manipulate time and take you back in the past, at the dawn of this pre-apocalyptic period. Because you will endlessly relive these three days, in order to gradually discover key events, these will be bookmarked carefully in the log Bombers, whose presentation was slightly modified and expanded in a historical layout, to facilitate its study and plan the next quests to come.
The bottom screen removes the need to pause the game and access the inventory and map
Of course mentioning the game Majora’s Mask would be pointless without talking about masks. While some play a major role, such as Link’s transformation into creatures with their own powers, other are more of a visual alteration. Other masks have more anecdotal functions, however obtaining them will allow you to perform specific tasks related to the course of events. Majora’s Mask then focuses on related activities, with a myriad of quarter hearts to be obtained which will expand your health once you form a full heart container. An orientation towards the leisure then opens the fishing sub-game, where your catches depend on various parameters such as the type of hook or the worn mask. This highly digressive philosophy makes the journey less linear than usual, even if sometimes makes you lose track of the central quest, or even finding key items that you’ll need in chest around the world.
These chests which contain rubies, as well as key items and other surprises are some of the elements of this remastered game that have changed. Indeed, some items are not obtained in the same way or at the same time as it was on Nintendo 64, such as for example the empty bottle that you can recover at the beginning of the game. Ditto for the mask vendor that now hides somewhere else. Nevertheless, these changes will betray nothing vis-à-vis the fidelity of the original version. Instead, they blend perfectly into the adventure, so that only scholars of this episode will notice the differences.
The characters were redesigned with more polygons, while textures are considerably richer and gaining finesse, despite a noticeable aliasing
In the end, there’s an irrefutable proof of intelligence displayed by Grezzo for this masterful work of remastering, which transfigures Majora’s Mask in every sense of the word. This masterpiece expresses its full potential, its few flaws were erased, although few ever criticizes the redundancy of its development. If back in the time Majora’s Mask was ahead of its time, the 3DS version is a homage to its legacy, and a reminder to all that it will stay the most obscure representative of the lineage.
The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D was reviewed using a Nintendo 3DS copy of the game purchased by the reviewer. The original game was released in 2000 on the Nintendo 64. We don’t discuss review scores with publishers or developers prior to the review being published.
• The visual overhaul carried out with great care and taste.
• The fascinating dark atmosphere.
• Additional features made for the New 3DS.
• The effectiveness of optional gyro controls.
• The incomparable convenience of the touch interface.
• The increased flexibility of the backup system and handling time.
• The maturity of the design.
• The linearity masked by numerous sidequests.
• The invaluable assistance of Sheikah stones for the treasure hunt.
What is not fun
• Occasional slowdowns and framerate drops.
• The role of some gadget and masks.
• Some mini-games still a bit annoying.
• The repetitive nature of the game can be sometimes stressful and potentially boring.
Our final verdict
Like it was the case for Ocarina of Time 3D, the 3DS version of the dark Majora's Mask is not limited to a simple port. The Japanese studio Grezzo redesigned the iconic title as a whole, whether it is the graphic aspect or interface without altering the original work. These wise developments improve the experience and make the adventure even more intriguing. With an oppressive concept based on time management and an approach favoring related activities, this episode remains one of the most visionary games from Nintendo, which is never too late to (re) discover.
An accomplished, award-winning gaming professional with more than 12 years of experience in the videogame industry, Nazih Fares has worked in public relations, marketing, eSports and localization for over 14 different publishers and more than 90 global brands. Fares is currently MENA Communications Manager at Blizzard Entertainment, based in The Hague. His views on this site are his own, and not those of his employer.