Just in time for Nintendo to unveil the "new" 3DS XL stateside, a remake of a cult-favorite Zelda game is hitting stores in tandem. The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask was first released on Nintendo 64 nearly 15 years ago and was already rehashed on the company's Virtual Console back in 2009.
Nintendo often feels like a company in the business of remastering classics, over and over. The Nintendo 3DS, like many Nintendo handhelds, has a ton of rereleased remakes. The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask is the weirdo B-side to Ocarina of Time, and the game fewer people have played. We have wonderful and disturbing memories of it on the N64, like a set of delusional fever-dreams. It's back and feels great in its 3DS remake -- if you haven't played it, you must.
That's likely the kind of success Nintendo will find with Majora's Mask 3D. As well as it still holds up, Majora's Mask is still a 15-year-old game, meaning a lot of people who will be playing it for the first time probably weren't born the first time it premiered on Nintendo 64.
But if you have played it, don't expect a whole lot that's different. The improved graphics, much like Nintendo's stellar job with Ocarina on 3DS, are solid -- but it likely doesn't warrant another purchase unless you're dying to relive it. It also takes advantage of the New 3DS XL's little stick-nub for camera controls, but it isn't necessary: you can play on older 3DS and 2DS systems, too. We're quite pleased with the new head-tracking hardware built into the New 3DS XL, which allowed us to leave the 3D effect on during all of our play time -- that's a first.
Majora's Mask is as delightfully odd as we remember it, and there still hasn't been a Zelda experience that's derailed so far off the track since. Imagine "Groundhog Day" Zelda-style, and you'll understand what Majora is: you play the same three days over and over again as you make progress in the game's dungeons and storylines -- and wear a ton of enchanted masks that offer special powers. It somehow works, and yes, it's the weirdest Zelda game by a mile.
A lot of Majora's Mask is still unique: its little day planner for tracking side characters and their sub-quests, the terrifyingly odd dream style of the whole game, and the way time is manipulated via repetition and variation.
It's great to see one of Nintendo's more forgotten hits get some loving treatment. It's another jewel in the 3DS' collection of franchise classics. What I'd love even more, however, would be a new Zelda.
The cult classic status of Majora's Mask may be a hint that Nintendo has hit (or is nearing) the bottom of the barrel in terms of rebooting old Zelda games. This won't be the last time we see a 3DS remake, but it sure is getting tougher to celebrate their releases.
Check out GameSpot's review for a second take