Majora’s Mask is easily the strangest, most risk-taking adventure in the Zelda series. It’s completely unlike any of Link’s other games, and delivers a tense, bizarre, and somber exploration of what it’s like to experience the end of the world, again and again. Most of its crazy ideas pay off just as well on the Nintendo 3DS today as they did in the N64 original 15 years ago, which is the mark of a great game. A handful of design decisions haven’t aged as well, though, and some of the changes made to the 3DS remaster left me a bit confused throughout my 20-hour adventure. On the whole, it’s absolutely worth the time to play or revisit.
Majora’s Mask’s core Groundhog Day-like conceit is a deep puzzle in and of itself. Time is always of the essence — the 72 hours until the world ends is constantly ticking down, and you have to tie up any loose ends you have before using the Song of Time to travel back to the start of the cycle. While certain items and knowledge carry over to next playthrough, most interactions you have with characters and the world itself are reset with each revolution. However, there’s great satisfaction in moving the goal post a bit further every time you restart a cycle.