The Legend of Zelda Majora’s Mask is quite famous for only having a single year of development time, in such a short time Nintendo managed to craft an extremly memorable adventure. However since Majora’s Mask they have never tried doing another Zelda game in a year.
In an interview with IGN, Zelda producer Eiji Aonuma talked about why we haven’t seen another Zelda game like Majora’s Mask, and why Nintendo hasn’t tried the one-year development cycle again.
“It’s interesting, because there’s definitely this way that we talk about that sort of thing in development circles here in Japan. It’s often presented as a challenge to the developers themselves to accomplish something like that, because it can be very difficult to do. Since I’ve been in the role of producer, though, it’s not something that’s been presented to me as a challenge to take on very often. Sometimes I think about issuing it as a challenge to developers that I’m working with.
“When I think about the kinds of games that you’re describing, where you took the engine and you took some of the original assets and made a new game from that, you know, the kind of creation flow that we had for Majora’s Mask wasn’t limited just to those ideas. We also had to think about how we wanted to change the world, to take something kind of familiar and then warp it. I definitely like that sort of a challenge. I think it’s really fun to think about how you would take that sort of a game in a different direction. For me, in order to properly consider doing that again in the future, I think you really need a compelling topic or a theme with which to start.”
Aonuma ended his comments by stating that hitting the three day cycle of gameplay allowed the team to come up with different game experiences, starting from a concentrated bit of source material. This led to the creation of Majora’s Mask.