Thursday, November 6, 2014

So It's Actually Happening

I'll admit, I was taken by complete surprise by the sudden reveal of The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D at the beginning of today's Nintendo Direct (yesterday's now). Not that the game hasn't been hinted at to death and demanded for into oblivion; it just wasn't on my mind and I also didn't expect any big reveals today. It took only a fraction of a second for my brain to recognize the swordsman's school music and realize what was happening. Using said music was an interesting choice for the reveal, but I think it worked. It's a song not many people talk about or might immediately recognize, which makes for some nice suspense. I bet a lot of people had a reaction kind of like: " that...wait, oh shit...". That was pretty much my reaction at least.

So Eiji Aonuma and co. (with Grezzo's help I presume) are finally remaking the best game Nintendo has ever made (fact!), but what does that mean? And how do I feel about it? Majora's Mask is very special to me. I usually cite it as my favorite video game of all time. If you happened to notice the name of this blog and the picture at the top, that all should come as little surprise.

The original Majora's Mask, to me, is perfect. It's beautiful, impactful, and memorable for all the right reasons. Any technical or arbitrary mechanical imperfections are meaningless to me. With that said, I'm obviously nervous about a remake that is supposedly going to aim to improve on perfection. To be honest, I'm also not that impressed with how the game looks either. I'm sure when I see it in its proper resolution on my 3DS with the slider all the way up, the game will look fantastic (just like Ocarina of Time 3D does), but so far, it just looks kind of underwhelming (also still not sure how to feel about that new moon design, which seems to have taken inspiration from Hyrule Warriors, or perhaps it was the other way around). I think this is partly because I've been spoiled by the beautiful HD remake of The Wind Waker and partly because seeing new visuals and new models for a game I'm so intimately familiar with is very jarring to me.

Another reason might be because I think the N64 original still holds up very well. It was one of the last N64 games and utilized the system's expansion pack to create a much lusher and more detailed world than OoT has, and one that I can still easily appreciate (not that I can't still appreciate the original OoT's world as well, because I do). This and the fact that I think the original doesn't need any improving on any other level are a few of the reasons why I didn't really want a Majora's Mask remake (gasp!) or at least wasn't crying out for one. The other reason is that Majora's Mask is perhaps my favorite work of art...ever. Would you remake the Mona Lisa?

But I digress. Perhaps I'm being over-dramatic. The fact is MM3D is happening, it was inevitable, it's not a big shocker and for now I'm cautiously interested in it. I'll definitely be picking up the game and playing it and as long as it turns out like Ocarina of Time 3D (essentially the same experience with updated visuals that stay true to the original's art design and only minimal tweaks that don't impact or detract too much), I'm sure it will be a worthy remake.

That said, Satoru Iwata mentioning something about making the game more accessible has me worried. If I may use the obvious metaphor, Majora's Mask is indeed a giant clock, with every part and piece of it working in tandem to create an incredible experience. Tampering with any one of those parts, making alterations for the sake of "making the game accessible" by say tweaking the three-day formula in some way or giving players more lax time constraints, will only end up cheapening Majora's Mask. Not all art is for everyone. Not all art has to be accessible. Majora's Mask is not a toy and no, it's not "just a game" ("video games" in general haven't been such for decades, but that's a topic for another day), so while altering something purely arbitrary to the core experience, like the game's save system for example (which is one of these "technical imperfections" that I mentioned that don't matter to me in the grand scheme of things), would not affect the integrity of the work in any way, altering other more significant elements could. Iwata also mentioned that they hope to keep the "difficulty" intact, however, so perhaps I don't have cause for worry. But even if it's an "either or" kind of deal where players have an option for an "easy mode" with a longer time limit or something, that still won't fly in my book. Call me stubborn or selfish, I don't care: implementing something like that is akin to treating Majora's Mask like a toy and a game instead of a confident, unapologetic work of art. Unfortunately, yes, I do live in the real world and I realize that a huge company like Nintendo wants to sell a product that appeals to as many people as possible, and I don't think the Nintendo of today, at least as a company, cares much for artistic integrity. Iwata himself has made a statement regarding such in the past, demonstrating that (if that statement is to be taken seriously) him and even Shigeru Miyamoto are more and more treating Nintendo's games like products, instead of works of art. A remake of Majora's Mask will not benefit at all from being treated like a product first and a work of art second.

I also really hope the team that created the original is closely involved with this remake, especially Yoshiaki Koizumi, who is the brilliant designer at Nintendo (seriously, he's like my favorite, look him up and the brilliant things he's done and worked on for which he gets very little recognition) who dreamed up the falling moon scenario and time limit concept, as well as wrote many of the scheduled events involving the citizens of Clock Town and is supposedly largely responsible for much of the mature and serious elements of the game (which I readily believe, given his pedigree). I hope he's there and has the authority to preserve what makes the original so poignant.

With Majora's Mask 3D, my three most-cherished Zelda games (Link's Awakening, Majora's Mask, and The Wind Waker) will now all have remakes. I just really hope they don't screw this one up. I had similar fears regarding The Wind Waker HD, but ended up mostly adoring that remake. Majora's Mask is different though. The game has such a delicate balance of atmosphere and mechanics that need to be preserved if this remake is going to be worthy. As much as I love OoT3D and TWWHD, I don't consider either to be the "definitive version", just a "different version". There are still merits to the original works, as will also be the case with MM. As was the case with The Wind Waker HD, I expect to be annoyed by all the reviewers and all the people will be all too eager to let MM3D overwrite the original that I love so dearly. Of course, nothing can take the original N64 masterpiece away from me, but I just want other people to still regard it as an option if the new one just doesn't quite preserve everything about the original. I'm excited that many people who never experienced Majora's Mask or who don't know anything about it are going to experience it now. I'm happy that Nintendo is finally done ignoring their greatest creation. But I'm still going to be selfish. I deserve to be selfish, and so does anyone else who cherishes MM like I do. This game is our baby, and Nintendo is sticking their hands back in it and messing around with it. Take care, Nintendo. Take care.

But damn, is this official artwork beautiful:

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