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‘The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D’ Nintendo 3DS Review: Turn Back Time

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‘The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D’ is out for the Nintendo 3DS on 13 February 2015.

‘The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask’ is a creepy, unsettling game. Which is an odd thing to say about a game involving a little green gnome, but happens to be true. The original appeared on the Nintendo 64 just a few years after the bright and powerful Zelda classic ’Ocarina of Time’, but it’s completely different in tone – even though the core of the game is still the same adventuring you know and love. It’s like Zelda meets Twin Peaks. It’s … weird.

Set in a strange, dark world under assault from a terrifying descending moon with a face from hell, Majora’s Mask has some troubling and even depressing themes at its heart. But it’s also innately repetitive and maddening in feel, largely due of its inescapable ‘three-day loop’ mechanic, by which you spend the entire game essentially replaying the same period of time, attempting to put right the world by small, adjustable increments.

Fortunately, it’s also made by Nintendo. Which means its core is a reliably interesting, fun and polished work of art – like almost every other Zelda. It’s long and involved, intricately put together and filled with deep dungeons, weird characters to talk to, puzzles and battles to test your wits against and a central setting which is totally alien to almost anything else in the series.

Remastered for the 3DS — and best experienced on the great New 3DS XL, thanks to the better 3D effects and second stick to control the camera – it’s essentially the same game. But it benefits from the same polish that Ocarina of Time received a few years ago for the same machine. Certain puzzles and locations are moved around to keep things fresh. The graphics are revamped nicely, and the bosses have been improved and made more interesting to defeat – even if that means they are also a little bit trickier to beat.

The game also adds an improved Bomber’s Notebook feature, which tracks hints, clues and locations about in-game elements which make it much easier to follow — especially if your play sessions are a bit more spaced out than they were in the early 2000s. There are more chances to save your game too – which is handy.

Majora’s Mask is rightly regarded as a classic, and this is the best version yet. It’s not going to be everyone’s favorite Zelda. It’s just a little too weird and dark for that. But those fans that really loved it first time around – or have never played it – are obliged turn back time and pick it up.

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