Posted on November 09 2014 by James Evans
Up until the
Nintendo Direct confirming the release of Majora’s Mask 3D, the great debate was whether or not the game would even see the light of day. Since then, there have been harsh words passed back and forth between fans who are in disagreement of the path that Nintendo has taken for releasing it on the 3DS, which Nate touched on a little bit yesterday. The fact of the matter is: we are getting this game on the 3DS, so there is really nothing productive to come from telling others why they are wrong. Instead, we can discuss the things that are still up in the air about the game that we are getting.
Earlier today, we reported that the game was actually in production for two and half years. That means that the every time Eiji Aonuma was questioned about the possibility of a remake, his response of laughter was because he knew that it was already happening. Every nod to the game from the mask hanging in
Link‘s house in A Link Between Worlds to Zelda Williams carrying it out to Smashfest at E3 was just what we thought: a hint to the future release of Majora’s Mask 3D. But why did it take them so long to make it? What were they doing to a game that took a year to make that could possibly have taken three times longer to remaster? Well, there’s really more to it than just that.
Majoa’s Mask Wasn’t a New Game to Start…Kind of
Anyone who knows how
Majora’s Mask came to be is aware of the agreement that was made between Shigeru Miyamoto and Eiji Aonuma. For those that don’t, after the success of Ocarina of Time, the team started planning on what was essentially a remixed version of the game using the Disk Drive accessory. Aonuma began to complain that he was not interested in making the same game again, at which point Miyamoto proposed that he could make a new game if he could do it within a year. This time constraint led to the three day cycle that is the foundation for the game and was released eighteen months later as The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask.
While the deal made that day was to create something within a year, it actually took a year and a half to see the title to completion. “OK, well that’s still half the time that it is taking the to remake something that already existed,” you might say. Don’t forget that the game was made using the same engine as
Ocarina of Time. Part of the production process was lost in that they didn’t have to create every character and piece of foliage in the game. I’m not saying that they have to do this now, but they had to take each element and re-render it. We have to remember that this is not a port, but is indeed a remastering. This process takes time and though they didn’t have to build a game from the ground up, they had to go back and restitch every piece of furniture rather than just moving them around the room.
So how do we define
Majora’s Mask as a new game? Do we call it that solely because it presents us with a different story? The internet is riddled with gamers bashing on series like Call of Duty and Madden for being the same thing with a different face. But isn’t that exactly what Majora’s Mask was? They even confirmed that they used a lot of what was already created for Ocarina of Time to make it. At this point, I am already anticipating that some of you will skip the rest of this to write “How dare you compare Zelda with CoD!” in the comments, but hear me out. Year after year, the best selling games on the market are the ones that use a majority of the components from the last successful iteration. Majora’s Mask did just that and went on to be critically acclaimed as one of the best in the series, albeit not the best selling. How long do these “new” games usually take to make? One year.
If you look at any of our recent
comparison posts, you can see that in most cases, development teams didn’t just smooth out the edges when rebuilding this title. A lot of the models have actually been recreated in the process, adding more time and difficulty to the development process. Given the amount of
Zelda content that has been released over the past two years, it’s also a safe assumption that the number of team members available for this task is much smaller than it was back in 2000. I’m honestly not surprised that this has taken as long as it has, because I believe that the 3D remake has the potential to have more “new game” elements than the original.
This Doesn’t Mean That It Needs New Content
In a game like
Majora’s Mask, what exactly would be considered new content? Some were upset by the game’s length and want more dungeons to explore. Others want a Master Quest or Hero Mode that provides more playability and challenge to the game. Some fans are even thinking way outside the box by envisioning a new adventure to complete a trilogy of sequential 3DS titles. But do we need more to enjoy a game that is so near and dear to us?
Ocarina of Time 3D offered very little change from the original. It was more accessible through an optional hint system but came equipped with Master Quest mode to provide a challenge to series’ veterans. Why would we expect much different from Majora’s Mask or even go as far as to demand it? While I wouldn’t be opposed to having more quests in the Bomber’s Notebook, I worry that adding too much will deteriorate from the perfect blend of content already in the game. If Aonuma added more quests, they may start to feel like a larger part of the game than the dungeons. If he added more dungeons, the quests would feel more tedious and mundane. We’ve already seen with Wind Waker HD that his focus for these side projects of remastering old titles is to simply remaster them and add a few new, fun, and accessible features. Like Nate said yesterday, we don’t want to take away from the importance of Zelda U.
What All of That Development Time Means
“Well, if the game shouldn’t need a lot of new content, why is it taking longer than the remake for
Ocarina of Time 3D?” Simply put, I don’t know. It could be the lack of available staff to work on the project. It could be that they have been creating revamped dungeons for a Master Quest mode. What I do know is that this was the first title in the Zelda series that Aonuma was trusted with in its entirety. Now, he is in complete control of the remastering of that title and I know that he is going to take care of it as if it were his own child. Before, he was on a one year time constraint, but this time around he has been given time to let the developers breathe and take their time perfecting the experience that helped to shape his career in the industry.
A Final Thought
There is no possible way to make a game that is perfect for everyone, especially if it is a game that a lot of people have already played. No matter what Nintendo and Aonuma do, there is going to be a number of people who spit hate and blasphemy because the game isn’t exactly what they wanted it to be. They have made it clear throughout the years that they hear us, and while it may have no direct impact on their plans as a company, they take our ideas into consideration when deciding what changes and updates to make to the games that they release.
We know that we will see some changes to the game. Whether it’s the saving process, added StreetPass capability, or a Hero Mode, players will get to experience
Majora’s Mask in a whole new way next Spring. Just remember that we want this to be a remastering of the game that we all remember, not a new game with similarities to the classic. Trust Aonuma in what he is doing with the game. He has already given us Ocarina of Time 3D and A Link Between Worlds on the 3DS, so his track record on the system is solid. He knows how to perfectly blend classic and fresh elements and I have full confidence that the three years of development time will prove itself when Majora’s Mask 3D becomes the definitive way to experience the game.