Remaking a Classic: Majora’s Mask

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Like any cult favourite, the big fans will be very sensitive to any changes to their favourite game when it gets remade or ported. While purists will always turn their noses at any slight change, it is interesting to really see what this new facelift has given <em>Majora&rsquo;s Mask</em>.</p>

Majora’s Mask is a Zelda game that almost demands a strategy guide, with subquest upon subquest needed to collect new Heart Pieces and Masks, often requiring you to do certain things at certain times over the three days. The Sheikah Stone from Ocarina of Time 3D returns, offering some video hints, but they are remarkably unhelpful for anything other than how to simply complete the main dungeons. 

You can try to play the game organically, seeing people’s habits and discovering events yourself, but you will assuredly get stuck on the more illogical aspects of the game. The Bomber’s Notebook, which offered some tracking of certain NPCs and questlines, has had its functions enhanced. Sadly, this only ever amounts to a terrible quest log, usually just resulting in telling you information you already had with no information on what the next course of action in a quest may be. 

Really, your best option is just to have an online walk through at the ready for the more obtuse aspects of the game. Zeldadungeon.com has a great guide, complete with pictures. It’s a shame though; a more solid in-game quest tracker would have immediately madea third-party walkthrough less necessary.

Other changes are for making gameplay a bit smoother. Helpful masks such as the Stone Mask, which makes you invisible, or the Giant’s Mask, which makes you giant during a particular boss fight, are found in completely different places than the old version. While it threw this veteran off, these new locations usually make more sense than before,  being closer to the challenges that require them. 

On the N64, the only way to permanently save your game was to reset time back to the first day, adding to the finality of each time loop. With this entry being a portable one, unfortunately, this means new save points are strewn across the land. While I lament that loss, given the 3DS’ dubious battery life, it’s not exactly a misplaced change. 

The most interesting area to look at in terms of change between remake and original is the plummeting moon itself, that omnipresent aspect of doom. Just a curious glance upwards will put the fear of memento mori in you. No longer being run on the N64, the glooming face is no longer angular and vacant, but a more defined and rounded angry face. It’s not better or worse, but certainly different. For my part, the original moon will always be scarier to me. Matt Lees of YouTube fame mentioned his preference for the original moon as it looking more uncaring and neutral rather than simply angry. Indifference can be scarier than anger.

Is this new 3-D version the definitive version of Majora’s Mask? Honestly, no. There’s some intrinsic quality the N64 version had. The original moon, the muddy and jerky graphics of Nintendo’s first forays into 3-D graphics — there’s just a certain quality to the original that’s lost in translation. While Ocarina of Time fared better with a graphical facelift, somehow, Majora’s Mask’s darker tone works better on the N64. A better guide in-game for getting the various Masks would have pushed the 3-D version ahead, but without it, this is simply an alternative way to experience this cult favourite. Still, if this is your second time around and you want an injection of nostalgia with a fresh sheen of better graphics, you could do far worse. If you want the original experience though, you can get the original N64 version on the Wii and Wii U’s Virtual Console.

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