The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D ruffled feathers when it came out in 2015, leaving some to question whether it was the best version of the game. Nintendo’s controversial rerelease of the N64 classic on the Nintendo 3DS introduced myriad minor alterations that upset players who love the eccentricities of the original. However, these changes truly brought the most out of Majora’s Mask, making the 3DS version hands down the best version.
In the Legend of Zelda series, Majora’s Mask stands out for how strange it is as a video game. From Ocarina of Time and onward, Zelda games typically feature open worlds with one central mission and optional side quests along the way. Majora’s Mask strayed from this pattern by making the game all about completing side quests in specific ways and at specific times over a three-day period. In this way, the Majora’s Mask is the Animal Crossing of the Legend of Zelda series, as it is a game that utilizes time, emphasizes side quests, and doesn’t really explain itself to players.
With Majora’s Mask 3D, Nintendo seemed to recognize how such traits made the N64 game unique, and instead of erasing these traits to make it fit into the series, the company made it easier for both new and returning players to enjoy the game. Most changes the newer version brought were small, such as the new locations of characters and shops, but a few were major alterations to in-game mechanics. The result is that Majora’s Mask 3D is at its heart the same eccentric N64 title while also being much more approachable and replayable.
The Best Changes In Legend Of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D
One of the ways that Majora’s Mask 3D was so different, bringing the most out of the original game, was the Bombers’ Notebook, an item that organizes the many necessary side quests in the game. In the N64 version, the Bombers’ Notebook was very limited in its functionality. Only 20 characters can be listed in it, and it only informs Link of when those specific characters can be spoken to and if a part of their quest has been completed. In Majora’s Mask 3D, practically all characters can be listed in the Bombers’ Notebook. Additionally, the notebook has information about their side quests and backgrounds, where they can be located, and more. While some may argue that this removes difficulty from the game, in reality it only makes the side quests more fun and Termina feel fuller. Rather than struggle to remember all of Link’s responsibilities in Majora’s Mask 3D and meet a terrible fate, players can explore character interactions and can check the notebook only when necessary. Sam Claiborn of IGN perhaps put it best: the changes Majora’s Mask 3D brought to the notebook “were the original intention of that notebook.” The game just needed to be modernized to bring the most out of it.
Another change – albeit a more controversial one – is the new ability to time travel to any point during the three days. In the N64 version of Majora’s Mask, players had to wait for long periods of time in order to complete all parts of each quest line over the three-day period. Majora’s Mask 3D completely circumvented this issue by allowing players to travel through time as they please, finishing quests on their own schedule rather than the game’s. Arguably, there is value in a game pushing its players to wait, as this process encourages exploration and creates a unique experience that is indeed worth trying in the N64 version. However, Majora’s Mask 3D‘s time travel functionality makes the game infinitely more replayable by letting players avoid the hassle of extreme time management. As ZeldaDungeon put it in their analysis, this update made the original Majora’s Mask feel obsolete, as the 3DS version hassles players with fewer scheduling issues. The change to the time travel mechanic also granted players the ability to create more time for their own unique adventure as Link. And at the end of the day, that is the entire point of Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D.