Thursday, February 26, 2015

Hyrule Warriors: Boss Pack & Version 1.6 – First Impressions

Loading times back to normal, baby! That's probably the best thing of the update.

As I had expected, 255 will be the final maximum level. Called it! It's basically another small 8-Bit reference, since 255 is the highest number you can get with 8-Bits. With that it was also the maximum number of Rupees in The Legend of Zelda (NES).

I'm a little bit disappointed with the new potions. They should be really helpful with both the Boss Rush mission and the new Boss Challenge. But I was hoping for a defense potion and also for new potions using silver materials, because I got so many by now, while my bronze materials get used up a lot by now. However, with the new anti boss mixture I was finally able to A-rank the Boss Rush. Good thing that I have waited for the last update.

The rest is pretty much a major expansion of the Challenge Mode, which they added in version 1.2, but then neglected. The new game modes from the Boss Pack actually a part of the Challenge Mode, which now has three categories: Battle Challenges (the free ones), Boss Challenges and Ganon's Fury. They added two cheap alibi challenges for free to the old challenge mode, one "Rack Up Your K.O. Count" and one "Defeat 800 Enemies in 10 Minutes" mission taken from Adventure Mode. The original challenge mission was a lot more interesting and even used unique game mechanics, so it's kind of sad that they didn't have any better ideas.

I was hoping that A ranking all three challenges with one character would unlock the dark costume for the character. But that doesn't seem to be the case, which is a shame. I don't see a reason, why they shouldn't let us have all the dark costumes. And yes, they should be for free, since they were included in the original game. But right now you're only A ranking the challenges for the sake of A ranking, which is a little boring.

And it appears that the new color costumes are based on the bosses. Lana has one based on King Dodongo and Cia one on the green Manhandla. So, Cia basically got another green costume instead of a red one, as I was hoping. But at least the new green costumes looks better than the old one...

The Ganon Challenges seem to be quite interesting and crazy. He plays very different from the normal characters, which is why he isn't part of the roster. Instead of the usual bomb, bow, boomerang and hookshot items you collect the individual boss attacks, like King Dodongo's fireball. You can smash boss enemies around, which is fun, but normal enemies now can be a pain, because they are hard to target and they can hurt you quite badly. No wonder that Ganon loses to Link each time.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Majora's Mask 3D Collector's Guide

As usual I also got the Prima Collector's Edition guide for Majora's Mask 3D. This is the first one, which doesn't have the Hylia emblem on the front, but Majora's Mask instead:

The gilded pages are not sticky for the first time, which is nice. Pages also seem to be thinner than usual. It has the same number of pages as the guide for The Wind Waker HD, but it's a lot thinner. Also, the lettering on the book's spine is slightly crooked. I heard that several copies have the same issue, so this is a bigger production flaw. But it's only noticeable, if you put it beside the other guides in your bookshelf.

The extra also seems somewhat cheaper this time around. In the past we had cloth maps, poster maps and bookmarks. The A Link Between Worlds guide had this beautiful lithograph. This one... well, this one got stickers:

They remind me of a set of old Club Nintendo stickers I got for Ocarina of Time, which also went for some darker foes. I put a Redead on my graphical calculator for school and Poe sticker on my semi-transparent purple Nintendo 64, which both still looks awesome. So, it brings back some memories and I kind of like them, but those should have been in addition to some nice Termina cloth map, instead of being the main extra.

Content wise the guide is flawed as always. I really disagree on when they do certain sidequests. For example they wait with the Swamp Spider House until they get the Hookshot. Of course many players do the same, but you can actually beat the Swamp Spider House even before entering Woodfall Temple. You don't even need the bow! And the guide should guide you through things as early as possible and go for the intended solutions.

The guide is also lacking with the new content. It doesn't have a map of the new Zora labyrinth on the moon and the new Fishing Holes, but it does have a map for absolutely everything else. And there's only very little on fishing. They added a simple check list for the fish, which doesn't even seem all that accurate or helpful.

But as usual this is not about the content, but the collection value. I wonder, if they will release another Zelda Box in a couple of years. We already got two collector guides, which are not part of the first box: A Link Between Worlds and this one. Add Zelda U later this year and we will have three. Four, if they also use the Hyrule Warriors one and give it a new cover. So, calling it now that there will be a 2nd Zelda Box with the guides from A Link Between Worlds and later around 2017.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Majora's Mask 3D: 3rd Spider House Ideas

So, Majora's Mask 3D is done. And as the 3D remakes before, it reeks of missed opportunities. I already gave a big list of ideas in past and some of the wishes in that post and its comments became a reality, even if it's just the smaller things.

One of my favorite ideas from that list is the third Skulltula house and I still feel like this would have been a great addition, because the Spider Houses always have been one of my favorite parts of the game. They are very atmospheric minidungeons, where you constantly feel rewarded and awesome. A third Skulltula house should have 40 Golden Skulltulas to collect to increase the total number of Golden Skulltulas to the classic 100.

And I would probably place it in the Snowhead region for two reasons. One is that Snowhead is the only of the four temple areas, where you don't find an optional minidungeon. The swamp has a Spider House, the ocean has another Spider House and then there's the Secret Shrine of Ikana. But Snowhead didn't get anything.

Now the second reason is that it always bugged me, how the Mountain Village is called a village, while there's only really one building there, the smithy...

They could have added a second building somewhere around here, acting as an entrance to the new Skulltula house, which probably would have been a nice addition.

The Spider House itself would focus on using the Goron, as well as Skulltulas hidden under snow, ice and rocks. Similar to the Swamp Spider House you can already beat it before the temple, which will give you more of a "challenge", where you have to manage Hot Spring Water. But the Fire Arrows then make things a lot easier, as soon as you get them.

The only real problem would be the reward. In the past I opted for the Shard of Agony, but they gave this function to the Mask of Truth, which was a very smart move and makes a lot of sense. I support giving existing masks new purposes and utilities over mindlessly adding new masks, though having both would be fine as well. They could always add a bigger wallet, but they Ocean Spider House already gives you that, so that would be a boring reward...

If you have any good ideas for rewards, let me know in the comments! I might also update the post later on.

Majora's Mask 3D Fishing Journal, Entry 1

This will just be a short update on what I have achieved so far. I mostly played the Ocean Fishing Hole and got all regular fish there, as well as one boss fish, the Grand Swordfish. I caught one on the third day using Fierce Deity Link, but you can also use Goron Link. He was quite annoying, because he kept moving around and despite his size he was very hard to see in the murky waters. So, I kept losing track of him and had to search for him under water using Zora Link. Not much fun.

He also broke the line once, when I tried to move him out of the water on one of these pillars, which didn't go too well. It's best to wait for them to jump and then try to move them on land.

Someone asked me in the comments to give some tips about fishing, but to be honest, I don't really know, what I'm doing. It seems to be a lot easier than in Ocarina of Time, where I constantly had the issue of fish breaking lose. But in general I'm just holding A and keep moving the slide pad left or right, depending on where the fish goes. You want to hear the fast reeling sound. Whenever the fish jumps out of the water, I press forward. I don't know, if this is required, but I think it was the same in Twilight Princess, so I just keep doing it. I never have any problem with the small fishes and even the Swordfish went in relatively quickly, so I must be doing something right. But sorry, if I'm not of much help here. But the real fault probably lies at the game, because it never really explains how to catch fish properly.

Well, these are the fish, which I have yet to catch:

  • Cuccofish
  • Ferocious Pirarucu
  • Colossal Catfish
  • Savage Shark
  • Great Fairy Fish

So, it's mostly the boss fishes and one regular fish. Though the Cucco Fish seems kind of rare, since I still haven't found one yet. It's also my major issue with the fishing game: it's all random. You leave the fishing place, you enter through the door again. You check whatever fishes there are. Repeat until you find a new one. There should have been a slightly better solution.

But my main goal is to catch one of each type. I don't really care too much about records, especially since the sizes seem to be messed up between all languages. But in general I really like that this minigame gives more uses to certain masks, that's probably the best part of it. That and they did a great job with putting the fishing places into the world.

Hyrule Warriors: Boss Pack Recolors

So, the upcoming DLC pack will include five more costumes: one recolor for Link, Zelda, Ganondorf, Lana and Cia. And this is pretty nice, since there were still some recolors that I would like to see, especially a red costume for both Lana and Cia, so that they have one color for each of the three goddesses.

For Link and Zelda I was thinking that they could give them classic NES colors. So, Zelda would have red hair and a red dress or just a red dress, which might look really good. But lots of reds with these costumes. And Link getting a classic NES color palette would pretty much give him all of his Super Smash Bros. skins with the exception of the Skyloft one. Well, Toon Link got the NES skin, not the normal Link, but still...

Ganondorf could have Ganon's colors. Or maybe also Ganon NES colors. I'm not too excited about him.

  • Link: NES Colors
  • Zelda: NES Colors
  • Ganondorf: Ganon Colors
  • Lana: Red Colors
  • Cia: Red Colors

This is all speculation and we'll see the actual costumes in three days, unless they are really hard to unlock, which I don't hope. Usually on the Adventure Maps the costumes never required A ranks, so I hope they won't let you struggle too much and have the game modes more for the fun of it and for scoring records.

I could also imagine them adding a medal for collecting all color swap and mask costumes, similar to the medal, where you have to collect all 8-Bit weapons.

And it would be still awesome, if we could unlock the dark versions of everyone... but maybe in the updated challenge mode. It would make sense. Since those skins were already part of the main game, Koei shouldn't charge people for them. And you can unlock the costumes for your DLC characters (Twili Midna, Young Link and Tingle) without buying more DLC.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D (Review)

Majora's Mask 3D Logo

This review was originally published on ZeldaChronicles (formerly known as ZeldaEurope) and got translated for this blog in 2022 by the same author.

After the excellent remake of Ocarina of Time 3D, fans were hoping that Majora's Mask were to get the same treatment for a long time. It's certainly a fan favorite title with its dark atmosphere, its rich game world, and its crazy collection of masks, where all the support for a remake shouldn't be surprising at all. Almost four years later, in February 2015, it then finally happened and Majora's Mask 3D was released alongside the New Nintendo 3DS. But did it live up to the quality of Ocarina of Time 3D? Is it really the ultimate version of the game? Let's find out!

This review will mainly focus on the qualities of the remake, compared to original N64 game and Ocarina of Time 3D. Technically, this could be viewed as only a "remaster", but nonetheless the term "remake" will be used throughout the review. Most of the screenshots in this review were taken from Miiverse.


Three Days, 24 Masks

Let's start with an introduction, which you can skip if you're already familiar with the original game. Majora's Mask is celebrating its 15th Anniversary this year and even after all these years it's one of the darkest and most bizarre episodes in the Zelda series, where this is without a doubt a fan favorite for many.

From the moment Skull Kid takes you into the parallel world of Termina, where many familiar faces from Ocarina of Time appear in new roles, you enter a lively and rich environment, whose fascinating atmosphere will capture your imagination. The heart of it all is Clock Town with its inhabitants, who all have their daily routines, which you can observe and even alter.

Link wearing the Couple's Mask in East Clock Town

Always above you is the impending danger of the moon, threatening to destroy everything in three days. But thanks to the Song of Time you can go back to the beginning of the three days and relive them. While the limit of three days (which are about 54 minutes in real time) may be daunting for some, this actually isn't a game where you truly have to play against time, it's a game where you play with time. Travel back, travel forth, see what changes. The Inverted Song of Time also lets you slow down the flow of time, which takes a away a lot of the pressure. And if you give the whole thing a chance, then Clock Town will turn into a playground of time, where you can affect the lives of the people and try different things with each cycle. It's the Groundhog Day of the Zelda series and it's a very rare and exciting concept for a video game.

If you leave the walls of Clock Town, which are found at the very center of Termina, then you will enter one of the most fascinating overworlds the Zelda series has to offer. While other 3D Zelda games usually had some issues with wide and empty plains, Termina Field has something to discover in every corner. And in every cardinal direction an impressive area is waiting for you, where you get in contact with the other tribes: the Dekus in the Southern Swamp, the Gorons in the snowy mountains to the north, the Zora at the Great Bay in the west, and the undead of Ikana to the east.

Via masks you also have the opportunity to become a part of these tribes. Next to the three day cycle, this is the second big feature of Majora's Mask: with a total of 24 masks you can obtain special abilities and even transform into different beings. As a Deku you hop over water and fly over abysses, as a Goron you roll through the environment and smash things with your fists, while as a Zora you can dive deep into waters and use your fins as a boomerang. This also puts you into the role of certain deceased characters, which lets you interact with the characters in completely different ways. And this is again a very unique experience, one that some may even have missed in later Zelda games.

Other than some mini-dungeons, only four major temples await you in Majora's Mask, which is notably less than in other Zelda titles. But the temples are all really well made and the journeys to them offer some of the most complex quests in the Zelda series, where you will experience a lot.

Link at Ikana Canyon with the Mirror Shield equipped

And the real focus of the game lies on the sidequests, where you explore the world, alter the fate of the people in Termina, or master the many minigames. Other than the 24 masks, there are 52 Pieces of Hearts to collect, where Majora's Mask is currently still the record holder. Each temple also has 15 Stray Fairies to find, which is yet another unique thing in the series. And in a similar fashion, there are two Spider Houses, where you can hunt for Gold Skulltulas.

You also have more in-depth ways of interacting than in other Zelda games. Especially Anju's search for Kafei is one of the most complex sidequest in the history of the Zelda series. And thanks to all these sidequests Majora's Mask has about the same amount of content as Ocarina of Time, despite the smaller number of dungeons.

You really want to give this game a try if you haven't already. And whether you should be doing that via the Nintendo 64 original (which is available on the Wii and Wii U Virtual Console for cheap) or the new version for the Nintendo 3DS is something that this review may tell you.


Graphics & Sound

Ocarina of Time 3D was one of the first major titles for the Nintendo 3DS and amazed with its new visuals for the Nintendo 64 classic, which let you re-experience the game and discover new details everywhere. Majora's Mask 3D is on par with the visual quality of the previous remake, but it doesn't deliver the same "wow effect". And one reason for this may be the fact that Majora's Mask on the Nintendo 64 already had better graphics than Ocarina of Time thanks to the Expansion Pack, where it was one of the best looking game for the system, if not the best looking. So, Majora's Mask 3D looks a lot more how you are remembering it and you really have to compare both versions to see all the differences.

GREZZO still managed to put new details into most places, like posters all around Clock Town, some new Easter eggs, and even a miniature model of Clock Town in the mayor's office. Fans of the original game surely will take their time to look around and discover all the new details.

For the most part GREZZO also did a good job with the re-modelling of the environment, enemies, and characters, some more than others. Most of the character models got completely overhauled and now look a lot more like their artworks, though some characters and enemies got only touched up slightly.

Link and Romani practicing at the ranch at 4PM on the first day

One visual issue in Ocarina of Time were flat 2D objects, like fences, which got ported over from the Nintnedo 64 original and look really weird on the Nintendo 3DS and its 3D effect. While grass and foliage still get rendered as flat textures in Termina, this doesn't stand out as much and for the most part everything got proper models now. Only the plots of soft soils on walls stick out, quite literally, because they were not properly aligned, offering an odd sight.

And one major flaw still returned from the previous remake: the stairs. Like on the Nintendo 64, they are only textures on a slope, which just looks bad. You would think that modeling and rendering a proper staircase wouldn't be a big deal today. And this is somewhat embarrassing, especially since there are so many stairs in and around Clock Town, where this ultimately attracts attention.

Just like Ocarina of Time 3D, the game is more brighter than the original, which you will mainly notice inside the dungeons. But the Great Bay Temple actually profits from this and the brighter visuals are generally better for a handheld game, where you might want to play outside, and they are also better for the 3D-effect to avoid ghosting.

The 3D effect itself, however, took a step down from the quality of Ocarina of Time 3D. It doesn't have the same depth and the camera is closer to Link, where you sometimes even get clipping errors that can be very unpleasant with the 3D turned on and can also obscure your view. It's especially noticeable with the new fishing minigame, where the camera sometimes goes inside the fish. Ocarina of Time 3D didn't have as many issues, simply because the camera and field of view were better.

Also, while the frame rate overall runs at a much nicer 30 frames per second (as opposed to the 20fps of the original Nintendo 64 version), it occasionally drops, especially when there are multiple particle effects going on. This is a problem from the original game and seems to be a general issue with the Zelda remakes and remasters, since both Ocarina of Time 3D and The Wind Waker HD also had similar frame drops. Using a New Nintendo 3DS over a normal Nintendo 3DS also makes no difference here.

And don't expect much from the sound department, because the music and sound effects from the original game simply return in slightly better quality. There are some changes with ambient sounds, e.g. you can't hear the carpenters hammering in every part of the town at all times. The Kakariko Village music from Ocarina of Time 3D also returns for the fishing ponds and there's a  new music piece for the extended credits. But that's pretty much it and that's okay, since both the music and the sound background were a huge part of the original game's fantastic atmosphere and hold up very well even today. You're still getting those goose bumps from experiencing Clock Town day and night, despite or even due to the absent hammering.

Controls & Interface

The interface of Ocarina of Time 3D had some flaws, which luckily got taken care of in Majora's Mask 3D. One of these concerned the map, where its usage in Ocarina of Time 3D was rather pointless. The touchscreen had the useless overview map, while the HUD on the 3D screen showed you a small map in the bottom left corner, like on the Nintendo 64, which was too small there to be useful and only made you see less.

official screenshot of the Woodfall Temple with the bottom interface displayed

That's already a lot better in Majora's Mask 3D, where the map fully uses the touchscreen, shows your current position, moves alongside you, and shows some helpful details. For example, the places where you've already found Stray Fairies are marked on the dungeon map. The 3D screen stays free of the map, even though the lower border still gets used for the clock. Eventually, this should have moved to the touchscreen as well, but at least the clock is actually useful.

The item menu also has improved since Ocarina of Time 3D, where it now works like in A Link Between Worlds. This means you can arrange your items and masks in any way you want and then assign them to buttons. In Ocarina of Time 3D the menu was more like in Link's Awakening, where your items were taken out of the inventory into the button slots, which made it difficult to sort them properly.

The Magic Arrows got split into individual items again, where now you even can equip them all at once, like having Fire Arrows on X and Ice Arrows on Y. That's still not as simple as in The Wind Waker, but far better than the inconvenient arrow menu in Ocarina of Time 3D.

Only assigning the touch buttons (I and II) in the right corners of the touchscreen doesn't work as nicely as before, because you now have to drag the items over the screen, instead of simply tapping the corners. Your Pictograph Box and Ocarina of Time also are now always found in the left corners of the touchscreen, so that they don't take an item slot and you don't have to equip them manually all the time. The different musical instrument of Link's masks even got their own icons now, which replace the Ocarina of Time whenever you're transformed. (Those actually existed in the code of the original game, but were never used there.)

Perfekt! - getting the best score at the Town Shooting Gallery

One of the biggest improvements comes again with the gyro aiming, like in Ocarina of Time 3D and The Wind Waker HD before. Scoring a "Perfect!" in the shooting galleries was never as easy as it is now. These minigames were really hard to master with the analogue stick, especially on the Virtual Console, where the sensitivity was messed up, but here you can do it first try. Still, if you prefer to use the Circle Pad, then you can do so or use a mix of both.

There are even some options now, where for example you can invert the camera controls for different actions. If you own a New Nintendo 3DS or a Circle Pad Pro, then you can also move around the camera with the C-stick. But it feels somewhat stiff and slow compared to the same feature in The Wind Waker, where you might not use it as much.

When you're flying around as Deku Link, you can also use the R-button to view downwards, which now lets you time your landing perfectly. As a Goron you also don't have to hold the A-button any longer, which feels odd at first, but is certainly more comfortable during longer races. At the same time you have to hold two buttons at once for the faster swimming as a Zora, but we'll get to this later...

Time Travel & Saving

Nintendo and GREZZO's goal was to optimize Majora's Mask 3D wherever they could to make it more accessible. You expect that this actually leads to teaching you the hidden songs for manipulating time right away, but that doesn't happen, even though the Inverted Song of Time is still your most important tool for time management. Curiously, they have even nerfed the song, where it now only slows down the flow time to half, instead of a third.

In the Nintendo 64 version it was thanks to the Inverted Song of Time that you rarely ever had any real time pressure. In the remake you have to be more thoughtful about what you're trying to achieve within one cycle and you won't be able to achieve the same amount of things as before. While the halved tempo feels quite right, there really should have been an option for how much you want to slow things down. And this change is certainly won't things more accessible to new players.

The Song of Double Time on the other hand got pretty much perfected and should a blessing to new players and Majora's Mask veterans alike. Now you can choose the exact time to where you want to jump to. And this eliminates all waiting times, as long as you know when the important things are going to happen. This is especially helpful during the Anju and Kafei quest, where this plays out a lot faster and more fluidly, because you don't have to stand there and wait for certain events to happen. You simply skip forward to the right time and go on.

Thanks to the new saving system you also can't do much wrong. You can now only save at the Owl Statues, but unlike in the N64 original they will create a permanent savestate. This can be used to save right before some critical events, where you may screw something up, e.g. the puzzle in Sakon's Hideout. And this saves you from some unnecessary frustrations.

The Song of Time itself now won't save the game any longer, but this also takes away its finality. In the original game you really had to be certain about going back in time, because you couldn't just load your last savegame in case you've forgotten something important, like bringing all your collected Stray Fairies to the nearby Fairy Fountain.

Goron Link behind the Clock Tower

Clock Town also has seen some renovations to make saving and traveling back in time more convenient. There is now a new square behind the Clock Tower, where you can find both the Owl Statue and the bank, so you can quickly save your game and manage your savings before and after a jump back in time. This place quickly turns into your primary entry point, because it's just so central and convenient, where you can really get used to this change.

In addition, you can now find so called Quill Statues in certain places, which can be used to save your game, but not as a teleportation point. Those are usually found at the entrance of dungeons and some other important places, like the Deku Palace. Some of them probably could have been turned into Owl Statues as well, while there also should have been some additional Quill Statues here and there, most importantly at the new fishing ponds.

New Guidance

The Bomber's Notebook has been fully revamped, which you now get directly from the Happy Mask Salesman, so that you won't miss it by any chance. The original version had a clear timetable for 20 select characters, but by now the notebook covers all sorts of sidequests where you get something from someone.

The events in their schedules, which tell you when important things are going to happen for a character, now only get revealed once you've experienced them once yourself and not upfront. This way the Bomber's Notebook might actually be less helpful than it used to be, but it's with all certainty more annoying, because it keeps showing up after interactions only to tell you what you've just been told a second time.

These entries can also be satisfying, however, and the new version of the Bomber's Notebook feels more like a checklist, which tells you what you've already achieved in the game. The Bombers will also give you hints about sidequests that you have missed so far, where they are much more useful now. In that case they will run towards you, which looks quite funny.

It even keeps track of sidequests that only give you Rupees. For example, there is now an incentive to play the lottery or help certain Zora, which you may have completely ignored in the N64 version. This adds a better feeling of completion, where the Bomber's Notebook essentially serves as a 100% checklist, covering all the masks and the majority of Pieces of Heart.

The rest of the Heart Pieces can be tracked via the Sheikah Stone inside the Clock Tower, which lets you view visions. Those are little videos to give hints about pretty much everything in the game, just like in Ocarina of Time 3D and Skyward Sword. And this complements the Bomber's Notebook quite well. However, it's probably not something that gets used by many players, because the fact that you have to return to the Clock Tower to use it makes it much less convenient than quickly checking the internet for help.

But at least the Bomber's Notebook and the Sheikah Stone combined will give you a complete checklist of all 52 Pieces of Hearts, which is especially useful when you're missing a few, but don't really know which ones you already got. In that case even a guide on the internet could not help you as much.

You can also set alarms inside the notebook for specific times, where Tatl then will remind you that you wanted to do something without giving you any specifics. Still, that's a good way to make sure that you don't forget important events, but you will have to remove the alarms manually afterwards, which feels a bit inconvenient.

New Old Bosses

Odolwa, Goht, Gyorg, Twinmold – the four bosses of the temples from the original Majora's Mask sure were something special. They were quite open boss fights, which didn't employ the typical weak point system and instead give you multiple methods of attacking them. Despite the fact that this is actually quite refreshing, Nintendo seemingly didn't like that and turned all the bosses upside down, so that only one method now works well and the fights follow a clear procedure. Every boss now has a giant eye as its weak point, which looks like the eyes from Majora's Mask and took over these beings like a parasite, which is certainly creepy.

Odolwa now blocks most of your ranged attacks, much more than he did before, where he is not as easy to defeat and you will need to make use of Deku Link. In return he's slightly slower now. Goht is the one boss who has changed the least, but there are some new obstacles showing up when you chase him. And when the giant eye pops out of his body, you will have to change forms to attack it with arrows. This seems forced, but at least the Fire Arrows have a cool effect in this.

Zora Link fighting Gyorg underwater

While Odolwa and Goht still feel quite close to their originals, Gyorg and Twinmold got changed completely. Both battles have two phases in the remake and can also drag on for a while. In Gyorg's first phase you're now rather compelled to fight him from the platform, but he will destroy it for the second phase, so you will have to use Zora Link and play a game with mines, which can depend on random factors and cost a lot of time.

Twinmold is even worse. In the first phase you have to fight one of the worms with arrows, while the other bombards you. Only after defeating the first worm you will get the Mask of Giants, which now turns you into a gigantic wrestler for some reason. And the new version of this battle of giants doesn't play very well, because Link gets knocked down by every touch of the second worm and the battle completely overstays its welcome. You also can't use your sword any longer, which takes any advantage from having a stronger one. The original version of this battle may have been simpler and not as imposing, but felt more wholesome overall.

Better or Worse

The bosses aren't the only thing that has changed, where Majora's Mask 3D has seen way more modifications than the previous remakes and remasters did. Mainly, things have been repositioned in many places and the locations of some items got swapped or altered, so that they are more accessible.

For example, you will now learn the Song of Soaring right at the entrance of the Southern Swamp. The Fairy Fountain in Woodfall is now closer to the exit and will reward you with the doubled Magic Meter, which is very useful for the Snowhead Temple afterwards. One Bottle can be gotten much earlier than before, but this removes the one on Ikana Graveyard, so that there are only Pieces of Heart to find there after the first day, which is a bit boring. The Stone Mask is now also hidden in a completely different place, where the opinions are certainly divided about this.

Some of the Stray Fairies inside the temples are easier to find, which seems a tad unnecessary and also destroyed some good hiding spots, but at least this is limited to the early game. The temples themselves have seen some adjustments in addition, where for example the Stone Tower Temple has now the red emblem above its entrance. That's a very convenient change, because you don't have to move the blocks out of the way any longer in order to shoot at it.

The most controversial change is probably the Zora swimming. Now, Zora Link swims rather slowly by default, which feels very similar to using the Zora Armor in Twilight Princess. And this can actually be quite useful for the narrower underwater passages, e.g. inside the Pirates' Fortress, where this change makes sense. However, as a result, the faster swimming was now combined with the barrier, which consumes your Magic. So, you can't just swim around freely all the time, like you could on the Nintendo 64. And having the barrier in front of your view all the time is quite annoying in 3D and can also lead to frame drops.

Plus, the game world wasn't properly adjusted for this. While the Goron roll also uses up your Magic, there are many ways to refill it while rolling through the environments. The only place where they thought of adding some Magic Jars underwater was the Beaver Race, which plays even worse than it did originally thanks to the barrier and the altered controls. But everywhere else in Great Bay you may simply run out of magic. While this makes the Green Potion much more useful, only a Chateau Romani can now give you the swimming experience from the original Majora's Mask. And this feels like such a bad solution overall, where there could have been other ways of implementing the two different swimming speeds, like pressing the A-button twice.

The Ice Arrows also got changed to the worse, where now they can only be used at preset points, which are sparkling on the water. Only inside Gyorg's chamber you can use the Ice Arrows freely to make ice floes anywhere you want, but that's not so useful there. The Ice Arrows were one of the most impressive features of the N64 original and have never returned with such an ability so far in the series. So, that this got taken away is very disappointing.

And it also doesn't make it any easier to use the Ice Arrows, because you need to hit the points of sparkling water, where you may miss them. It seems like Nintendo / GREZZO mainly wanted to avoid some glitches and shortcuts that were possible with them. But they should have fixed those, instead of limiting the freedom of the players even further.

Deku Link inside a flower on a giant flower

They've also removed the initial speed boost of Deku Link's spins, but otherwise this transformation has actually seen some improvements. The bubbles are stronger now, because they fly farther and hit a larger area. You even get reticle for aiming now. However, you can now only shoot them when they are fully charged. And in addition to the improved camera while flying, which lets you view downwards, some of the flight passages have been made easier, because the platforms now only starting moving once you've landed on them. This may save you some frustrations, but it also removes most of the challenge in these cases.

Another noteworthy change comes with the Garo's Mask, which now looks like a Garo Master. Both variants look good, but the new version is a better fit for the dialogues, since the normal Garo will confuse you for one of their masters. And the Mask of Truth now got the functionality of the Stone / Shard of Agony, where it shows you any hidden grottos. Curiously, there is no mention of this new feature anywhere in the game.

Fishing with Masks

After analyzing in detail what got changed, let's talk about what's really new. And Majora's Mask 3D is the first remake / remaster of a 3D Zelda game that comes with new places to explore: the Swamp Fishing Hole and the Ocean Fishing Hole. Both of these places were nicely integrated into the existing environments, look very pretty, and invite you to catch a total of 24 different fish – 12 per location.

Fishing is a traditional minigame in the Zelda series, which was part of Link's Awakening, Ocarina of Time, Twilight Princess, and Phantom Hourglass. Elements from all of these versions were taken into Majora's Mask 3D to create the most complex Zelda fishing minigame as of yet.

The Fishing Pond from Ocarina of Time served as a prototype, but feels like a bad demo in comparison. The Sinking Lure is now a legal tool, and you can switch between it and the regular lure to target fish in the depth or near the surface. Fishing is also a little easier than in Ocarina of Time, as fish don't break free from the line so quickly.

Zora Link fishing fish at the Ocean Fishing Hole

To make things a little more interesting, both the time system and your masks play an important role here. Some fish can only be found during certain times. Some fish only appear after certain events. And some fish can only be baited with certain masks. This gives some of the masks additional usage in the game, which is great for the ones that didn't see much love before, e.g. the Postman's Hat.

A lot comes together here and you can make it your goal to collect every type of fish at least once, where completing your collection can take several hours. Tatl keeps track of your catches and you can view the statistics via a board next to the entrance.

The only problem is that it depends entirely on chance whether certain fish will appear or not. As a result, you will have to leave and re-enter the fishing hole repeatedly until the fish you're looking for finally appears. And this could have been avoided by a deterministic system, where the same fish will appear at the same time and the same conditions. Partly this is even the case, it's just that the RNG was added on top and can be really annoying.

In addition, the given lengths of the fish don't always match what you have in front of you and are also completely different between the language versions, which is odd. And going for records is all there is, by the way, since there is no reward for the fishing and it also doesn't get an entry in the Bomber's Notebook. This means that this is a completely isolated sidequest, truly a game within the game, which you can safely ignore if you don't enjoy it.

Other Additions?

Majora's Mask 3D has been in development since 2011. This is three times as long as the original Nintendo 64 title, which got created within a year. If you hear that, then this will raise the expectations for what could have been improved and you will see potential for additions everywhere. Sadly, Majora's Mask 3D only adds to the long list of missed opportunities.

Besides the new fishing holes, the 3DS version only offers one additional Bottle to find, which wasn't there in the original. And this mainly to fill a gap in the item menu, something that should have already been done in Ocarina of Time 3D. A new sidequest got added for this, where a mask gets utilized, which wasn't very useful originally. You might even say that it was the most useless mask, where it's nice that it has a slightly bigger role now. And a new type of milk gets introduced with this as well.

Otherwise there isn't anything new to be found in Termina. There is no new minidungeons, where a third Spider House could have been awesome. There are also no new masks, no Master Quest mode, nor a Hero Mode.

Link and Tatl entering the great hall of the Swamp Spider House

Since Majora's Mask focused more on the sidequests and there is no imminent replay value, it's understandable that Nintendo didn't want to add a simple Hero Mode, like in Skyward Sword or A Link Between Worlds. Either you are still busy with the many sidequests or you will feel like you are done with the game for now. And you can replay the dungeons at any time any, where this can be even more fun than replaying the entire game from the beginning.

However, the Hero Mode could have been an option that's available right from start, similar to how it was done in The Wind Waker HD, to offer a little more of a challenge. And for fans it would have been truly exciting if there were something like Master Quest, where you would think that this should be in the realm of possibility after more than three years of development.

They also could have done something more with the Picto Box. While it's now always accessible via the touchscreen and takes photos in color, it still gets used for the same old purposes and still can only save one picture at a time. That's really disappointing, because this item was improved in some many fun ways in The Wind Waker HD. You were able to make funny selfies and it also gave you a sublime connection to Miiverse, which is still unmatched today. So, it's a shame that it didn't get some more attention in Majora's Mask 3D, despite all the potential.

At the same time you have to praise Nintendo and GREZZO that they didn't force any new modern features into this, like StreetPass, which wouldn't have been a good fit for this title. They could have used different amiibo to add more masks, like the Super Mario mask for example, but luckily they didn't and Majora's Mask 3D is still a completely normal game, without content locked behind any shenanigans.


The goal of remakes and remasters should always be to create the ultimate version of a game, which improves upon everything and makes the original obsolete. But with Majora's Mask 3D Nintendo hasn't met this goal. Some things were made easier, others more difficult. Some things got improved, others got worse. And some things are just different now.

In any case, it's still the better version for beginners. The Nintendo 3DS version has prettier graphics, runs more smoothly, and also offers a much more convenient time and save system, where it's just the better experience overall. Fans of the original on the other hand will be confronted by some questionable changes, where the improved visuals and the new fishing holes probably won't make up for it.

The Good:
  • Portable version of a classic
  • Extensive fishing expansion
  • Nicer graphics with many new details
  • Improved time travel and saving
  • Good usage of maps
  • Sortable item menu
  • Useful check list with the Bomber's Notebook
  • Precise aiming with gyro
  • More usage for various masks
  • Lots of optimizations
The Bad:
  • Some disimprovements (swimming, Ice Arrows, ...)
  • Questionable changes of the boss fights
  • 3D clipping errors
  • Some dips in the frame rate
  • Small graphical flaws
  • No Hero Mode or Master Quest

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Mask of Truth Replaces Shard of Agony in Majora's Mask 3D

I didn't know this yet, but they made it so that the Mask of Truth shows you the location of hidden holes:

There were only two holes, which you have to open with bombs, but it's nice that they didn't just cut this feature out alltogether. It fits the Mask of Truth perfectly and now I want to run around with this mask looking for other hidden holes, I might have missed... :D

Of course there also goes my idea of the Shard of Agony being an additional reward, but this is also a good solution.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Hyrule Warriors: Ganon Pack and Version 1.6 Infos

  • New Boss Battle Mode
  • New Ganon Mode, where you play as Ganon
  • Level cap raised
  • New mixtures
  • New medals
  • Challenge Mode update
  • New Challenge Mode missions
  • Loading times fixed

Good stuff! As you might know, I was fully expecting another raise in the level cap, since the DLC characters had still five missing hearts. I guess, the original characters won't get any new hearts and the maximum level might be 255 as a throwback to The Legend of Zelda (NES), where your Rupee maximum was 255 also.

It's a blessing that they fixed those loading times. I wasn't able to play the game now anyway, so it's good that I essentially skipped over 1.5. The level raise might also come in handy with the Termina Map, which I still have yet to beat.

Ganon Mode sounds like a lot of fun and you can even battle the Great Fairy for the first time. Before she never appeared as an enemy. And essentially you get a new playable character with this, though I wonder, if Ganon will have levels and different weapon tiers. His weapon seems to be the Trident. Boss Battle Mode looks like hell. I never really enjoyed the Boss Rush mission, but this looks even worse.

However, you can unlock new costumes for Link, Zelda, Ganondorf, Lana and Cia in these modes... I was expecting to get the dark costumes for everyone, but I certainly don't mind getting fresh costumes. It still would be nice to get all the dark costumes at some point... maybe in a final free 1.7 "thank you" update, which also includes the Fishing Rod weapon? :D Or you can already unlock them in the updated Challenge Mode. We'll see.

Majora's Mask 3D Daybook, Final Day

Here we go. I've completed the game, all Hearts, Masks and whatever. The only thing left to do is the new fishing, but I'll write a separate journal about that.

On the moon they changed the Zora labyrinth. Or you could say they completely replaced it. There's now more skill involved, because you have to get all these dolphin jumps right. I always jump out, where the vortex is. This seemed to get the job done. And the right path is marked by fish, but of course you have to find the Piece of Heart first.

It's kind of annoying, how it keeps showing you the sequence, where it opens the doors. Because this interrupts your swimming every time. But it looks like they didn't only want to ruin the swimming, but also taunt you with it. The old labyrinth might have been too simple, but it didn't need to change like that.

It's almost worse than the Goron labyrinth, where you now have the problem of the slide pad with 360° "precision", which gives you a hard time going straight forward. That wasn't a problem with N64, GCN or Wii analog sticks for sure, which were optimized for eight directions.

Well, trading all masks finally gives you the Fierce Deity's Mask again, which now looks a little bit edgier. He certainly looks a lot better in Hyrule Warriors or the artworks. But the new whirling sword beams are cool and even a lot stronger than they used to be, it only took a couple of hits to bring each form of Majora down. Wow.

But they're entirely useless pretty much everywhere else. The only boss that still goes down nicely against Fierce Deity Link is Goht. Odolwa blocks the sword beams more aggressively now. You can land some hits, but he takes a lot more damage and overall the fight is not as satisfying as it used to be.

Blasting Gyorg with sword beams from on top of the platform still is very satisfying, but he now ends the fun and Fierce Deity Link sadly is only prey in the water. And the 2nd phase of the fight involves a lot of luck, so that the fight can take its time... no fun to have here.

Twinmold doesn't work at all as Fierce Deity Link. You might score some lucky hits against some of the eyes on the blue form, but the red worm seems impossible to hit. You can fight the "small" enemies though, but overall Fierce Deity Link is of no use here. Well, the original Twinmold also wasn't easy to fight as FDL, but at least it was possible.

And this is my biggest complaint with the remake! I can live with the magic swimming, I can live the castrated Ice Arrows, but that they made Fierce Deity Link look like an useless joke, that's unacceptable. Instead of actually giving this transformation some more action, as I had hoped, they took away from him! Thank the goddesses for Hyrule Warriors, because at least there I got to have some fun with Fierce Deity Link. But Majora's Mask 3D is simply broken and easily my least favorite remake, despite all the good improvements like the Song of Double Time. But turning Fierce Deity Link from a boss killing machine into a fisherman was the worst thing they could have done to the game.

Bad job, GREZZO.
Bad job, Nintendo.

Also, if you do pretty credits and have two screens, put the names on the other screen and let us watch the beautiful scenes without your names obstructing the view... you have two screens, use them!

Ah yeah, no Hero Mode or Master Quest unlocked, but we knew this already. A cheap Hero Mode like in Skyward Sword or A Link Between Worlds, where the damage simply gets multiplied, wouldn't have been a good idea anyway. This game is mostly about the sidequests and either you still have some left to do or you don't really feel like doing it all over again. Majora's Mask doesn't really have immediate replay value, plus you can replay every dungeon any time anyway thanks to the 3 day cycle. However, they still could have given a Hero Mode option like they did in The Wind Waker HD. And in three years they could have developed a full blown Master Quest with all new dungeons. This would have been a lot better than ruining the bosses. They could have even made it so that you fight the original bosses in the Master Quest Mode...! That would have been a solution.

One last thing, this is how I organized my items:

I love it, when you can chose your own order. This is supposed to be symmetrical. Bottles on the right and items with counters on the left, mirroring each other. Solid items in the center. I kept the bottles right, because I like to put them on the touch buttons and this keeps the distance at minimum.

Well, thanks for reading! And stay tuned for my fishing journal.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Majora's Mask 3D Daybook, Day 4.5

After clearing Great Bay I went on today with completing Kafei's quest, which goes down really fast now thanks to the amazing improvement to the Song of Double Time. No annoying waiting times! Even better: you can now save right before doing Sakon's Hideout and just load your last savegame, if your screw it up. This always was my greatest fear, that I would fail retrieving the mask and then would have to do the whole quest all over again including all the waiting!

And I actually did fail the room with the block puzzle at the end. In the original it showed you in what directions you could move the blocks with the patterns on top of the blocks, but they changed this here and then I tried to push the wrong block, while standing on the red switch... which then resulted in a failure. Though it has been a while that I witnessed this event. Kafei simply gets trapped and you have to leave him. How sorry.

Ikana has always been the most atmospheric part of the game, but also the most cumbersome. But in the remake they changed bits and pieces to make things a little more convenient here and there.

Beneath the Well you now always only need one of an item. I went in there prepared with five Magic Beans and a Blue Potion, which was the requirement to enter the dungeon on the N64. But I only needed one Magic Bean and a Red Potion would have been fine, too. They also made some of the Gibdo's riddles easier and more obvious. Like the guy at the end, who wants milk, asks you now "give me what cows give you, if you play a certain song to them", instead of "give me something, which is good for your bones". So, he basically explains to you, how to get milk from cows. I really do miss the times, where games were about exploring and challenges. Today everything needs to be handed on a silver platter or else people will get impatient and consult the internet.

At Ikana Castle they changed the room with the falling, hot platform. In the original you had to quickly get to a Deku Flower and fly to a switch, before the platform drops. The timing was super close. Now you only have to get to the Deku Flower and then you can fly over the platform to the switch. This came in handy, because I fell down twice at the upper castle and had to go through this room a couple of times...

The Redeads inside the castle are probably the fastest source of money in the game. They always drop between 15 and 20 Rupees. There you can collect 500 Rupees in a short time, which allowed me to get to the 5000 Rupees at the bank and secure the Piece of Heart there.

Then comes the part, where you climb the Stone Tower. The Elegy of Emptiness always has been the most cumbersome thing in the entire game, having to play a song to do what you could do in a single swing of the Cane of Somaria in 2D Zelda games. You can walk out of the creation of the statue by pressing A, but this causes the switch below to be deactivated shortly. And then it shows you blocks moving back and forth several times...! Not improved at all...

At least the song is now easier to remember for me: YXYRYAX ...! I didn't even have to look it up. In the original it was just all some yellow notes, like with the Bossa Nova I never could remember the song well. But with the different button placement it was easy for me to remember. And I like, how it plays more like an actual instrument with these buttons.

It's also noteworthy that they added some Gossip Stones on your path up the tower, giving you hints about the Ikana River, what lies behind and ahead its stream. But it seems like the game now places you next to these Gossip Stones, if you happen to fall down the abyss. I'm not sure, if the original did that, but I believe you had to do it all over again, if you ever fell down...

The Redeads at the side are also now more silent. You can only hear them, if you go to the edge, where they are standing, using the Scarecrow's Song. In the original you could hear them most of them time, which always gave me this chilly feeling and I kept wondering, where they would be.

Now the Stone Tower Temple got some small tweaks here and there. They removed the small crates from the 2nd room, where you have to use the Elegy of Emptiness, and replaced them with one block. Originally you could mindlessly destroy the boxes and then get stuck, but they fixed that. They also changed the central water room, so that you can climb out of the water. But you also have to reach a switch using a dolphin jump, which can be annoying, if you don't have enough magic - another good example, where the force magic swimming simply fails. (Update: actually you can also reach the switch as the Deku, so never mind.) Also, the hand enemy in this place originally was supposed to help you out by throwing you back on land. Both in the normal and the twisted version of the temple. But now the hand just throws you away into the abyss...

They also enhanced the flying time of the Deku in the room right before the Garo Master, where you fly above the lava. In the original it usually took me a couple of tries until I got it right, but there it's easy. What wasn't so easy though, was the room before with the mirrors, which you have to load with light. The one, where you have to load two mirrors in a row, gave me some trouble, because no matter how long I would load the 2nd mirror, it only gave me light for a short moment... It took me a few tries to finally remove the block.

The Garo Master is also somewhat harder to fight than I remember. He's now nearly impossible to hit until he does that jump, where he disappears for a brief moment. You can abuse Deku Nuts, which I then did in the Secret Shrine of Ikana, but in the temple I didn't have any.

They moved the red emblem in front of the temple above the entrance, instead of behind the blocks. This is a lot more convenient, so I like it a lot.

But with all the changes, they at least kept all the Stray Fairies, where they originally used to be. This is surprising, after they made some of them easier in the first two temples. Stone Tower Temple definitely has some of the trickiest fairies, where you have to go back and forth between the two different versions of the dungeon. Great Bay Temple also had its fairies unchanged, I think, except for maybe one in the first room - I don't remember. But overall it seems like only three or four fairies got changed in total.

The new Twinmold fight was awful, I didn't like it at all. In the original you could either shoot the ends of the worms with Light Arrows or use the Giant's Mask, a simple but epic fight, now it's just some annoying mess. As a giant it keeps pushing you over, which is not fun at all. And the stupid 2nd half with the wrestling also took a long time to beat, at least five of those finishing moves, while the red worm also took tons of punches, before he came down... I doubt, you could do anything with Fierce Deity Link here, but I'll try.

New masks:

  • Couple's Mask
  • Gibdo's Mask
  • Giant's Mask

After defeating Twinmold, I quickly cleared the Secret Shrine of Ikana and thus completed everything you can do on earth, except for the new fishing. But I'll save that for later. However, for some reason my Bomber's Notebook didn't get a "complete" sigil yet, though I did all the sidequests... but I'll figure it out. Eventually you get it on the moon, which will be my next stop. I'm already fully prepared and I didn't even start a new cycle, so I'll just keep going.

Majora's Mask 3D Daybook, Day 4

Next destination: Great Bay. The original Mikau looks really great in here, which makes me really want him for Hyrule Warriors 2.

But this is where I could test the new swimming at first hand. I have to say that it's a good thing that they added the new swimming speed, because it makes navigating the Pirate Fortress or the Great Bay Temple a lot easier. Outside the dungeon areas it's a shame thought that you can swim fast using the magical barrier. What were they thinking? The original game was not balanced for that and now you constantly get a magic problem, unless you use a Chateau Romani. While I do that, you still get the annoying electrical barrier sound and view. Especially in the Beaver Race this was annoying, because you had a blue overlay on the red and white rings. This causes some optical issues and in combination with 3D it's even worse... So, there should have been a different solution other than wasting your magical barrier. Like tapping A twice to swim faster.

The soldier with the Stone Mask now moved into the Pirate Fortress. While this kind of rubs the main use of the Stone Mask right in your face, it's not a bad change. Now you actually have to dodge some pirates for real, before you can use the mask. And you can't forget the mask in advance. I also like the new sequence, where the soldier flees the fortress.

The Gerudo Guards (the ones fighting with scimitars) felt a lot easier to beat than originally. It only took two or three hits with the Gilded Sword. They also removed the Shell Blades from the tanks with the Zora Eggs, but this is a welcome change. Those things were terribly annoying in such a small space. However, they also could have removed those fish. It actually happened to me that I caught a fish instead of the last Zora Egg and then teleported out of the fortress in a rush. You can imagine my unpleasant surprise, when I noticed that I had to return to the fortress all over again. But luckily I also forgot to take a photo of a pirate, so I had to go back anyway.

Apropos photos... it's interesting how the Bomber's Notebook also lists some side quests, which don't yield any meaningful rewards. Like giving one of Lulu's fans a picture of her, lighting up the Zora hall, playing the small boomerang minigame at the coast or winning the lottery. These are things, which I only ever did once and then completely ignored in later playthroughs, because they weren't important to a complete savegame. But now that the Bomber's Notebook keeps track of them, there's a reason to do all these things with each playthrough, which I like. It adds more to the 100%.

I'm positively surprised about the whole Bomber's Notebook. I was afraid that it would hand hold you through all sidequests, but what it actually does is compiling a check list of all the things you've completed so far. The Bomber kids are now also very useful, because they tell you "rumors" about sidequests, which you have yet to do. And this is a very good system. It tells you what things are left to do, but it doesn't tell you, how to do them. That you still have to figure out for yourself.

Now after I got all Zora Eggs, I focused on some minigames and sidequests including the Beaver Race, which used to be my nemesis in the past. And with the already described optical issues and the slide pad, this didn't go down so well. However, either you swim a lot faster now and the clock is ticking slower than on the Nintendo 64. Because despite making a couple of mistakes each time, I still made all four rounds on my first try. I remember that on the N64 version, if you wanted the Piece of Heart, you could not make a single mistake. It was really cut close. I'm not complaining though. I used the Chateau Romani and they made it probably easier, so that you can go for the pots with magic.

I also took a sneak peek at the ocean fishing area and it looks amazing. You can even catch a giant Swordfish like in Phantom Hourglass. Overall it seems like they combined aspects of all the fishing from previous Zelda games: Link's Awakening, Ocarina of Time, Twilight Princess and Phantom Hourglass. The fishing pond in Ocarina of Time was used as the prototype, naturally. From Link's Awakening you get fish hiding in alcoves and the legal use of a sinking lure. Also, now you actually can fish at the ocean, which is also where the big sea fish from Phantom Hourglass come in. From Twilight Princess you have the idea of using different lures for different fish, however, instead of actual lures you use different masks and songs, but it makes good use of everything in the game, which is nice. And you also have the system, where different times and weather result in different fish. The only thing missing would be fishing from a boat.

I didn't actually try out the new pond yet. Because you need all the different masks, I feel like this is an endgame feature, where you spent some time, after you've completed the original game. And with that the fishing ponds are certainly a great addition, which will keep me playing for a while, instead of simply completing Majora's Mask for the sixth time and be done with it.

After visiting all of Great Bay, I started a new cycle to play the Ocean Spider House, my favorite part of the game. However, the large, steep stair case there looks really bad now, because they still only use textures for the stairs. This was one of my major complaints in Ocarina of Time 3D with the graphics. It's all in stereoscopic 3D now, but they didn't bother with modelling stairs? It just looks weird.

I also did most remaining side quests like Deku Deeds, getting the All Night's Mask, listening to grandma and even the new side quest, where you get an extra bottle with Mysterious Milk from the Gorman Brothers. I don't really want to know what he put in that milk... but they used the spoilable item timer system from Ocarina of Time for this and you can't warp or use the Goron. But Clocktown is not far from the race track and you can easily do it with the Bunny Hood.

The only major side quest I didn't complete before playing the Great Bay Temple is Kafei's Quest. I usually wait, until I have a warp point in Ikana for the sake of convenience. However, you really need the Ice Arrows now to enter the main area. Previously you could hookshot from the right angle to the dead tree at the other end of the river, but they fixed this. And I'm not all to happy about it, because it makes the game more linear than it has to be... and you don't really need the Ice Arrows in Ikana anyway, so why force them?

New masks:

  • Zora Mask
  • Troupe Leader's Mask
  • Stone Mask
  • All Night's Mask

I also did the frog choir, when I played the Great Bay Temple. This is actually a nice tip for everyone. Whenever you are about to play the Great Bay Temple, initiate the frog quest first. So, beat Goht again and get the first three frogs. If you now meet the frog in the Great Bay Temple, you can complete the quest and get your Piece of Heart afterwards. That way you never have to return to the Great Bay Temple, which is a hard to navigate dungeon thanks to its currents.

I like how the dungeons are a lot brighter in this game, especially with the Great Bay Temple. I always despised the dark and gloomy waters, it makes the dungeon a little bit more friendly... or maybe you could see this as a bad change, because it takes away the dreadful atmosphere of the temple.

However, the 3D in this dungeon was just terrible with all the water and electric barrier effects going on. It hurt my eyes, so I had to turn it off several times. This never happened before on the 3DS, I usually play with the 3D on and turn it only off, if I'm using the gyro aiming. But in Majora's Mask 3D sometimes you get a lot of annoying effects popping in your eyes, sometimes you have clipping errors where things in the environment pop out of the screen and completely ruin the 3D view. I don't think this ever happened in Ocarina of Time 3D, which makes it even weirder.

And man... why did they have to ruin the Ice Arrows? This was the only time in a 3D Zelda game, where the Ice Arrows were actually fun and useful. And now they limited them to the few points, where you had to use them. That's really boring and it's not like they're easier to use now. You can still miss those sparkling spots. It's just that they removed a feature, which had game breaking qualities, instead of taking the three years of development time to fix it.

You can still use them freely in Gyorg's chamber, interestingly enough. Though I didn't understand, if they had any purpose there. Maybe to attack his eyes with the sword, while it's floating in the water...

The revamped fight is all right. You have one phase, where you snipe him from the platform, and one phase, where you "fight" as a Zora. I get that they wanted to emphasize both ways of fighting him, instead of giving the option to do it either way. It still sucks and the 2nd phase is now a pure puzzle fight, which feels like a hassle and takes way too long.

And... you can't use Fierce Deity Link in Gyorg's 2nd phase anymore. And neither in Twinmold's from what I heard. And that stinks. The whole point of that mask was blowing away boss enemies. That's the only real thing you could do with it and they took it away? Come on! It supposedly still works on Odolwa and Goht and these are the bosses, where defeating them really changes the environment. With Gyorg you only get the rehearsal and the jumping minigame. And Ikana was cursed anyway, so defeating Twinmold only changes the color of the sky... So, yeah, with these two bosses it's not important to have short cuts. It still would have been nice, if they had found a way to let Fierce Deity Link fans still have their fun with the bosses. They could have given Fierce Deity Link an Iron Boots effect, where you can fight Gyorg under water. But taking things away like that is a bad solution.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Majora's Mask 3D Daybook, Day 3

This is not exactly "day 3", since I'm writing about my progress from last night and I also will be playing some more later today. However, it felt right to have one blog post for each significant chapter of the game. I've cleared Snowhead, Romani Ranch and the Ikana Graveyard. And I wanted to write about this, before moving on to Great Bay.

Goron Link now punches differently, it feels more quick and dangerous, but they are not as massive and fiery as they used to be. You also don't have to hold A now for rolling, which feels different, but it's not necessarily bad.

I like how they added a fence right before the entrance of the Snowhead Temple. In the original this was a tight curve and I would usually fall down, right before getting to the entrance. So, this is a good change. Inside the temple they moved only one Stray Fairy into a more visible position. They still kept the very difficult ones, so it's not a big deal.

The new Goht fight is also pretty good. If you hit him after a jump, it exposes the giant eye, which you have to shoot with arrows. If you use Fire Arrows, it adds a nice burning effect to the whole Goht. But you can also have Goht crash by attacking him side ways, which exposes a smaller eye at the side, so you can attack it with punches. This feels a little more like the classic approach. So, from the tactic alone, it feels a lot like the original, it's just that they make you use the bow in one case. However, Goht also gets some new moves. Now he sends rolling boulders after you and you can even have entire clusters of stalactites falling down. And that's in addition to the bombs and all the other craziness you had before. You can now even spot, how the bombs come out of his body, which is a nice detail.

I even played the Goht fight twice in a row, because after the Snowhead Temple was done, I devoted my next cycle to getting the Gilded Sword. I feel like the one thing in the game, which they really could have made easier, was the Goron Race. It still feels unfair, but it's doable. The cycle after that focused on the Romani Ranch and the Ikana Graveyard, clearing both at the same time, though this was not a good choice, because I had to go the graveyard twice. It's better to devote one full cycle to the graveyard simply staying there, especially now that you can skip time so efficiently with the new Song of Double Time.

Not getting a bottle at the third day of the Graveyard still feels wrong though, since it added variety to the daily rewards there and the puzzle with Boris always has been a hassle, where you should get a better reward. Though they might it easier. Now you simply have to target him and Tatl hovers in front of him, so that he will move into your direction, where ever you are. On the N64 it was really easy to lose him or to have him run in the wrong direction (even jumping down, when he shouldn't). It's good that they fixed this, but they should have kept a bottle there.

The Gorman race track is now a lot shorter by the way. Or at least it feels like it. There's only a small sequence of fences right before the goal, but I remember that in the original there were a lot more fences at the end. But I never liked this race, so I don't really mind it being shorter. It also became harder at the same time, it took four times to beat it. I'm not sure about the new Garo's Mask. I like it's design, but the original Garo's Mask was one of my favorites. It makes more sense to have the mask of a Garo Master though.

And for some reason I couldn't find Cremia on the first day. She used to hang outside on the fields, tending to some cows. But I couldn't find her anywhere. I hope this is not a bug in the 3DS version, because this would be a huge oversight. Update: But she should be there, because Nintendo released this screenshot:

Maybe I was blind. Or it really is a bug and she is gone, after you play the horse target practice minigame... I don't know.

New Masks:

  • Goron Mask
  • Don Gero's Mask
  • Garo's Mask
  • Romani's Mask
  • Captain's Hat

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Majora's Mask 3D Daybook, Day 2

Today I focused on clearing the Swamp area and on the swampside fishing, as well as other minigames, which became available with the Bow.

I'm not exactly sure, how many times I've beaten Majora's Mask now, but this should be the sixth time. This does not include replaying parts of the game for the fun of it though. As a kid I didn't have much money for video games, unlike today, but I made my games count and played them thoroughly. On the Nintendo 64 I only had four games, which includes both N64-Zeldas. But especially Majora's Mask kept me entertained for a long time, since I could replay every part of the game, whenever I wanted, thanks to the three day cycle. And one of my favorite things to replay were the Skulltula houses:

I love this so much! Awesome atmosphere, fun collectible mini quest, I could do it over and over again. And I did. Best mini dungeons in the entire Zelda series. It's just so much fun collecting all the spiders.

The fact that you get one bottle earlier now with Koume's target shooting actually improved the experience, because you can already have three empty bottles, unless you decide to play the Spider House before Woodfall Temple. But you didn't have to run around as much as you would with only one or two bottles. I still don't like that they took the bottle from the graveyard, because it added more variety to the rewards there and it was handy for the Big Poe. It also was another good reason to visit the graveyard before going to Great Bay.

There's an interesting change at the Deku Palace: the cave with the Bean Seller now has a 2nd exit at the spot, where you need to plant the beans. I wonder, if you actually still have to go through the palace gardens and dodge the Deku guards... I haven't tried this out, but theoretically you should be able to just use the back entrance. Unless this hole only appears, as soon as you bought the beans...

They changed the Stray Fairies in Woodfall Temple, both their color and some of their locations. The green fairies are definitely a better fit for the Woodfall Temple and I like getting the double Magic Meter earlier. Originally I would always leave Snowhead Temple before the boss fight, deliver the fairies and then fight Goht. But that's a hassle and it's good that they changed it.

But it feels weird, how they made finding certain Stray Fairies easier. I always liked in the original, how some fairies were really cleverly hidden. It made me feel special. Like this one beehive, which used to be in the background, it now is directly next to the door, looking very suspicious. But I suppose they made it so that you can get all fairies without the Great Fairy Mask or potentially drowning yourself in poison water.

The new Odolwa was good. I suppose, he's actually more difficult than in the original, where you just had to spam arrows and hack. There's more strategy here and Deku Link is actually useful in the fight, which is nice. I was worried that I won't like the changed bosses and I'm still worried that you can't defeat Gyorg and Twinmold as Fierce Deity Link anymore, but let's see...

New Masks:

  • Mask of Scents
  • Mask of Truth

Now off to minigames: gyro controls for the win. In both the Swamp and Clock Town Shooting Gallery I scored a "Perfect" twice on my first try! I was always pretty good at the swamp gallery, but the town one usually gave me huge troubles. Check out this blogpost, where I played the Wii version of the game. I actually made a list next to my TV with all the Octorok locations to make the game easier. That's not necessary here. Gyro aiming is just so much faster.

Apropos minigames: I spent more time with fishing and I really enjoy it. This is what I catched today:

  • Termina Bass: 13cm (61cm)
  • Termina Loach: 22cm (79cm)
  • Groovy Carp: 5cm (39cm)
  • Fragrant Reekfish: 10cm (53cm)
  • Postal Salmon: 42cm (108cm)

Interestingly enough if you switch the language from English to German, these values are completely different. It still uses cm as the unit, but the numbers are all off (I put them in brackets). This is really weird and I can't really explain it. Maybe the game uses simple size units for the fish (like 1 to 10) and the actual size is dependent on the translation. But I don't know how gradual this is. Can you catch a 62cm Bass in German, but he still will be 13cm in English...? It's quite confusing, why this is so different.

I also had a big catch today, but this is spoiler territory: