Ocarina Of Time is one of those benchmark masterpiece games that can only be discussed in hushed terms. If you were around when it was released, you’ll never forget the impact it made on the industry and your fragile young psyche. Generally speaking, Nintendo likes to hold the reigns tight on their Zelda franchise, releasing only one major title per generation to make each new sequel an event. However, Ocarina Of Time was such a hit that they cranked out a sequel within two years and more than that, it was a bit of a masterpiece in and of itself.
The game itself is the same masterpiece that it was 15 years ago. It’s a Zelda game that twists expectations and franchise staples. There are only four temples, but each is beautifully designed and tricky to find. Masks give Link his special abilities after each temple rather than the usual weapon and costume upgrades. Then of course there is the time race, which can be frustrating and enthralling. The reset button must be hit regularly and paths must be repeated, yet with all of the side-quests and time-manipulating options, this proves to be as much of an added boost of creativity as it does a time-suck (pun intended, hardy-har-har). Majora’s Mask offers both all the predictable elements that we love from the franchise as well as a cavalcade of unique curveballs that make it special. If you’ve played the game before, you’ll know exactly what I mean and will likely be anxious to dive in again. If you’ve never played it before, I must confess to being deeply jealous. I wish I was able to play it for the first time on the 3DS because Nintendo have delivered one hell of a spit-n-polish to celebrate this cult classic’s 15
Much like Ocarina Of Time 3D, Majora’s Mask 3D is beautifully updated while still retaining nostalgic simplicity. Textures are vastly improved, animation is smoother, colors are more vibrant, it looks better than the N64 edition in every conceivable way. Yet, the designs remain true to the era and the animation is quite often just as charmingly limited. It’s what the game designers who made this thing in the 90s wished Majora’s Mask could have looked like, not what Nintendo would design today. If anything, the new look is even better suited to Majora’s Mask than the last Zelda 3DS re-do. This world is so creepy, colorful, and imaginative that it needs improved visuals to work its magic spell for contemporary eyes. There’s no denying that the newly designed ‘moon-of-doom’ blows the original out of the water and instantly increases the atmosphere of this title immeasurably.
To read Phil’s extend review, pick up the Feb issue of CGM.