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Zelda: Majora's Mask's Director Didn't Have Time To Play The Game Start To Finish Before Release

"The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask" had a notoriously tough deadline to meet. Shigeru Miyamoto, producer for many Nintendo games including what might be the creepiest "Zelda" game to date, gave the "Zelda" team only one year to finish the sequel after the revolutionary "Ocarina of Time." He theorized that it would be easier to finish because "Majora's Mask" used the same engine as "Ocarina of Time" and, unlike 2D models that needed to be redrawn, the 3D models could be reused in the new game.

In an interview with Shack News, "Majora's Mask" director Eiji Aonuma spoke about annualization, the act of releasing a new game for a series every year. He revealed that "Majora's Mask" was supposed to come out just a year after "Ocarina of Time" but took longer than expected. After that, "The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker" released two years later (and is still worth playing now). However, all the Zelda titles following "Wind Waker" took more time than the last. Aonuma attributed this to the growing level of quality expected from Zelda games that only time could refine. 

"Majora's Mask" actually ended up taking about eighteen months to complete, despite Miyamoto's original request to have it finished in a year. The deadline was so tight that even Aonuma had to make some sacrifices, and he wasn't the only one, either. Here's the shady side of Nintendo's development of "Majora's Mask."

The Zelda team met a terrible fate

Aonuma had to pull at least one all-nighter and didn't even get to play the game start to finish before release. Fans might think that the director of the game would get at least some time with the finished product, but apparently the deadline was too brutal to even allow that. A couple of Nintendo Dream Magazines from the early 2000s revealed that the "Zelda" team as whole needed to crunch, too. 

"A lot of people ended up working overtime due to the sheer volume of work that had to be done," Miyamoto said (via DidYouKnowGaming). "As long as it was finished, anything was acceptable. I made it clear that's what was most important. At the start, the staff seemed pretty stressed out. They were like, 'There's no way we can make it in a year!'"

This stress carried over into the "Majora's Mask" NPC dialogues, including the iconic "You've met a terrible fate, haven't you?" from the Happy Mask Salesman. The terrible fate was supposedly the fate of working endlessly to finish "Majora's Mask" in one year. All real-life events also somehow related back to the game. A couple of the developers attended a wedding, where they used their fear of the North Korea Taepodong Missile crashing into the venue as the inspiration for the moon in "Majora's Mask" crashing into the town.

"Majora's Mask" ended up as a unique game that took under two years to complete. Maybe some stress could've been avoided with a longer deadline, though.