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The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D stands the test of time

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The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask has always stood apart from the other 3D Zelda games. After the almost universal crowd pleaser that was Ocarina of Time — the game that essentially reinvented the Zelda series into 3D — Majora's Mask arrived in 2000 as an odd, alt-universe side story. With a time travel mechanic that had players repeat a series of three days in order to avert a horrific apocalypse, there was somber streak to the game. Sure, you could be the hero — but only after you saw the end of the world a few dozen times.

That experience — innovative, slightly weird and definitely different for a series that plays it safe with its core formula — will arrive in a few short weeks on the Nintendo 3DS. From what I played in a long hands-on session yesterday, the game has held up beautifully over time.

As with Wind Waker HD last year, Nintendo has made a few small but important tweaks to Majora's Mask, in order to help it along with the almost 15-year gap since its original release. The graphics are cleaner and nicer. There's an overhauled "bomber's notebook" that helps you keep track of side quests (a healthy addition in a game packed to the gills with NPCs and optional activities). There's even fishing this time around!

Saving has been simplified: Now, you only need to save at owl statues, which you can easily fly to at any time. And more statues have been added in, for convenience. You can now advance the clock to any hour in the game, with a revised "song of double time."

Aside from those additions, this is the same Majora's Mask that discerning Zelda fans have known and loved for nearly 15 years. It controls well and importantly, feels right on the New Nintendo 3DS XL hardware, both of which will launch on Feb. 13, 2015.