Game Review: The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D (Nintendo 3DS)

Majora 3DDeveloped by: Nintendo EAD Tokyo and Grezzo

Publisher: Nintendo

Release: February 13th 2015 (Nintendo 3DS)

Play Time: 31 hours; February – April 2015

Bought @ GameMania Antwerpen for €229,00 (preinstalled on the New Nintendo 3DS XL: Majora’s Mask Limited Edition)

Videogames can be scary. They can be scary because they are suspenseful or horrifying in what they present. Or they can be scary because they do something completely new. The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D falls within the latter category, though its atmosphere is rather creepy as well. Of course, Majora’s Mask 3D isn’t entirely new. The 3DS release is the updated version of a game that originally came out in the year 2000. That it still feels new to me has two reasons: (1) there’s still no other game out there that as much as resembles Majora’s Mask; (2) Though I’ve had a copy of the original game in my possession for over ten years, I’ve never had the courage to start it up. Yes, I was that scared. But, boy, was I wrong to wait…

By M.C.J.F.

Majora 3D (1)

Three days to save the world

The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D isn’t like any other Legend of Zelda game. It isn’t like any other game, period. Yes, it can be described as an action adventure game, because you run around wielding a sword, explore dungeons and talk to people who ask you to do things for them (preferably you do this last thing without shoving your sword up their noses). What makes this game so different is that you only get three days to finish it. Why? Because that is the exact moment the world will end.

That’s what scared me all these years. That I had to finish the game in three days. The idea that if I didn’t finish the game in time, I would have to do everything over again, made me not want to play the game at all. I only thought of the wasted time. Having to try to beat a game several times…

Of course Majora’s Mask’s three day system doesn’t work that way. It is much more ingenious. When your reach the end of a three day cycle, you do not lose all your progress. Yes, it will seem like everything gets reset, but all the key items you acquired in your previous play troughs, you will get to keep. If you defeated a dungeon, found all the hidden fairies inside and defeated that dungeons boss you will not have to go through that entire dungeon ever again. You may want to, but that’s an entirely different thing.

Two kinds of stories

Termina isn’t a humongous world, but it will take you quite a while to see every nook and cranny of it. What makes Majora’s mask such a big game are not the dungeons (there’s only four of them), but the side quests. Throughout the world you will encounter dozens of side characters who all have their own story to tell and who are all a little bit freaky in their own way (why yes I will help you by looking for some toilet paper, mister creepy hand sticking out of the crapper!).

Majora 3D (5)

You will want to influence the stories of these characters, however, since it can net you a decent reward (mostly a health upgrade). But you will find yourself not doing these side quests for the reward only. Many of them are interesting enough for the stories they tell. The Anju-Kafei side quest is one of the most beautiful, bittersweet love stories I have ever had the privilege of experiencing in a video game. The story of two lovers trying to find one another becomes much more powerful when it is a race against the clock, when you know the world will end whether they find each other or not.

While time is ticking away, you will also notice the moon getting closer and closer to you. Yes, the reason the world is about to end is because the moon is going to drop right on Termina’s main hub, Clock Town. The main story is you trying to stop that eerie moon from falling by confronting the one responsible for it. It might not seem like much of a story, but because it so subtly integrates themes like loneliness, friendship and betrayal, it becomes a tad more interesting. Those craving a story driven experience, will have to find satisfaction in the aforementioned side quests.

Majora 3D (3)

One definite system to play it on

Majora’s Mask 3D looks beautiful and plays beautifully on my New Nintendo 3DS XL Limited Majora’s Mask Edition. It uses the same engine as The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D which came out for the original Nintendo 3DS, meaning that it looks a lot better than the original on Nintendo 64, but doesn’t necessarily make use of the New 3DS’s added raw power – which makes sense, since the game is also playable on the regular 3DS (XL) and 2DS.

Majora 3D (2)

The game does make use of the New 3DS’s added C-stick, allowing for much smoother camera control. While I overused the L-button in Ocarina of Time 3D to get the camera behind me time and time again to get some sort of idea what was happening in front of me, I now only used it for targeting enemies. The C-stick really makes a big difference for playing this game.

First I was skeptical about the New 3DS’s super stable glasses free 3D. I am one of those people who doesn’t notice the difference between 3D and 2D effects 90%  of the time, but the New 3DS and The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D amazed me in this respect. I literally squealed of joy when seeing that giant turtle swim up to me at Zora Hall in full on 3D.

Majora 3D (4)

Sigh… I notice I haven’t even talked about the music yet. Let’s just say: you’re in for a treat. The Song of Storms has been in my head for two months now, and my best guess is that it will never leave it again. Just like the experience of playing this game will never leave my memory again.

I am never letting a game scare me out of playing it ever again.

Whom should play this game?

Everybody. Though you may want to play Ocarina of Time before you play this game. Not because of a continuing story or anything. Just because it came before, because so you would already have a feel of how to play a 3D Legend of Zelda dungeon, and so you would get most of the references in Majora’s Mask.

9 out of 10

Advertisements

Game Review: Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars

Mario vs Donkey Kong - Tipping Stars Box Art Eu WiiUDeveloped by: Nintendo

Publisher: Nintendo

Release: March 20th 2015

MSRP: €19.99

Bought @ Media Markt Wilrijk for €16,99

Sometimes you buy a game on Saturday and finish it by Sunday… and that’s okay. This is what happened to me with Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars. I bought it Saturday afternoon, played a few levels, put it down, thought it was fun enough, picked it up again Sunday morning, couldn’t put it down anymore and finished the main world levels by midday, tried to create my own level afterwards, failed at it miserably, turned off my console and went out on a social call.

By M.C.J.F.


It’s a puzzle time, woohoo!

I have really enjoyed my time with Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars so far. It’s a puzzle game. It’s not a hard game. Not by a longshot. But it’s short levels do (mostly) require you to think ahead and be quick on the draw while playing. Just like in previous Mario vs. Donkey Kong games (not counting the first one, which was a breed of its own, and much more like 1994’s Donkey Kong for the original Nintendo Game Boy) you have to safely guide mini-Mario toys, as well as mini-Toad, mini-Pauline and mini-Peach toys, from point A to point Door by influencing their surrounding environment with the stylus.

Mario vs. Donkey Kong Tipping Stars (1)

The challenge? Once one of your toy figurines starts moving (because you tapped on it with the stylus, or because it was touched by another toy) it never stops. At least, it doesn’t stop until it has reached its goal, is brutally ripped apart by a Shy Guy or blazing fire ball, or, just like a lemming, has plunged itself into whatever abyss you weren’t able to bridge in a timely fashion – purposely or unpurposely, depending on how psychotic you are.

The last level of each world spices things up a little. In these levels one of your mini-Mario toys becomes cursed by a monkey and starts moving on its own accord, looking to create havoc. When it touches one of your other mini-toys it’s Game Over. So you will want one of your mini-toys to whack it with a hammer before that happens, lifting the curse in the process – aaah, if only real life was as simple as that.

Monkey curse

 

It’s a MORE puzzle time, woohoo!

Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars  is the kind of game of which you think beforehand that you’re going to play a few levels of when you have half an hour to kill and end up playing for several hours in a row, saying: ‘oooh just one more level… but now I’m at the final stage of this world… and now I want to know what the next world looks like… but that first new level was so easy.’

You and I will be able to play a few levels of it whenever we want to kill some time though, and that is because the game doesn’t really start before you finish it. Indeed, there are a lot more levels to enjoy than the initial 48 which comprise the story mode – which isn’t more than a gif before level 1-1 and a gif after level 6-8 to be honest. After you beat level 6-8, you unlock the first of two extra worlds, comprising another 8 levels each. There are also 24 bonus levels which you unlock by perfecting the main, extra and already unlocked bonus levels. And then there’s the option to create and share your own levels with the outside world.

Community

Now, before you say that you aren’t interested in user generated content, because… well… oftentimes it isn’t all that good (here’s looking at you Infamous 2!), know that you will not only find user generated content behind that scary “Community” button, but also  official Nintendo content shared by the director of the game. Yes, Nintendo has promised to release two new levels every week for the next 50 weeks. That’s a lot of extra content, and at the time of writing, three days after release, already six official extra levels were available.

 

It’s a… creating time, woohoo?!

Creating your own levels is a puzzle game in its own right. The creator mode is intuitive enough. You start with a level template and select different traps to bridge, what you would want to bridge them with e.g. springs and conveyor belts, enemies to whack or avoid, coins to collect (it is a Mario-game after all), mini-toys to safeguard (including mini-Luigi and mini-Donkey Kong toys not seen throughout the main campaign!) from a list and add them to the template with simple stylus taps and drags. Before you get to finish your level and share it with the outside world, it has to work though (here’s looking at you once more Infamous 2!), and that means you will have to be able to clear the level yourself, grabbing all the coins to get a perfect a score… which is trickier than you think.

At least for me it is.

Creator mode

I can’t see myself creating that many levels, let alone sharing them with the community, but those who do can get even more out of Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars. When people play and like your levels, they get a chance to tip you with stars (hence the name of the game). With these stars you can buy more tools and skins to make your levels even more intricate and interesting. You also get stars for playing and perfecting (community) levels, but when you aren’t really planning on creating your own levels, you only get to use these stars for tipping… which is less of an incentive than actually getting something in return (Miiverse stamps don’t really count, do they?). Though one could argue that you indirectly get fun new levels by tipping and encouraging the right people.

It’s a cross-buy, woohoo!

The game offers a lot of content, but only for those who are willing to spend more time with it after the credits role. Depending on what type of gamer you are then €19,99 might seem a somewhat high price of admission. You can get the game for €10 though, because when you buy a download-code for WiiU or 3DS (it’s on both systems) you also get a download-code for the other system. Because it’s an extra code, and not limited to use on the same account, you can easily share the game with a friend who owns the other system. I played on the WiiU and gave the 3DS-code to my wife.

Cross buy

Are there advantages for playing the game on one system or the other? The game is exactly the same on both systems; also meaning that the game doesn’t make use of the WiiU’s added raw power. The graphics are fine. The music as well. But it is clear that not too much attention was given to these aspects during development. The visuals and music very much resemble what was already achieved on the Nintendo DS in 2006.

For those who thought they would get to enjoy the series in HD on WiiU for the first time, think again. What you get on your television screen is a small square box surrounded by a frame filled with stars, clouds or whatever icon comes with the level theme. The larger levels might just fill up the screen, but that just creates another problem. Because you aren’t as zoomed in on the action as on the gamepad, it can sometimes become difficult to spot what your mini-toys are actually up to – even on a 50 inch television screen. Clearly, the game is meant to be played on the gamepad or the Nintendo 3DS. So while I had my television switched on during my first play session, I didn’t bother to turn it on during my second session.

Clouds

Whom should play this game?

Woohoo! No. No. No more woohoo’s! If you really can’t get enough of the woohoo’s, however (like me), this game is definitely for you. Also if you like puzzle games like Lemmings and previous Mario vs. Donkey Kong games, you should probably pick this one up as well. It might not be the best you’ve ever played, but it is really enjoyable none the less. When you’re a creative spirit who has always wanted to make his own Mario vs. Donkey game and share it with the world, now’s your chance… again. Though the level editor has been around in the series since 2006, the sharing options, tipping mechanic and Miiverse integration make for it being the best editor the series has offered to date.

7 out of 10