For a game that takes place only six months after its predecessor, The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask establishes that a lot happened in between Link returning to the past in Ocarina of Time and landing in Termina in Majora’s Mask. There’s a lot of history between Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask and it’s interestingly all left to subtext.
Outside of Link flashing back to Zelda, Majora’s Mask does not reference Link’s time in between games. Similarly, the development of Majora’s Mask took a rather short amount of time and saw a lot of ideas come and go. Whether it’s in or out of universe, a lot happened between Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask.
10 Link Rats Out Ganondorf
Established by Twilight Princess, Link rats out Ganondorf to the King of Hyrule almost as soon as he comes back from the future. Leaving the Master Sword in the future, it’s implied that Link rushes over to Hyrule Castle, meets Zelda for the first time again, and then exposes Ganondorf’s plans.
From there, Ganondorf is executed, manages to actually survive, and Link lives the rest of his life a simple soldier. With this in mind, Majora’s Mask ends up the Hero of Time’s last real adventure. Once he comes home to Hyrule, he’s implied to marry Maron and then live out his days a knight.
9 Ura Zelda
Originally being developed for the Nintendo 64DD, Ura Zelda was the first form that Majora’s Mask would ultimately manifest from. Shigeru Miyamoto’s vision for Ocarina of Time’s immediate successor, Ura Zelda became what fans now know as Master Quest, the remixed version of Ocarina of Time.
Ura Zelda would have differed slightly, however, as it would feature brand new dungeons to complement the remixed dungeons. Simply taking place in Ocarina of Time’s Hyrule, Ura Zelda would have reimagined the rest of the game considerably. Only the remixed dungeons ever saw enough development to warrant releasing, however. Though that’s perhaps for the best.
8 Link Toughens Up
Concept art can say a lot, especially about a character. In concept art for Ocarina of Time, young Link is clearly adventurous, joyful, and eager to explore the world. In the concept art for Majora’s Mask, the year older Link is confident, more stoic, and clearly ready to take anything life throws at him.
Ocarina of Time toughens him up considerably, of course, but so does going back in time having lived an adult’s life in an adult’s body. When Link returns to the past, he returns not to his past, but to one Zelda created for him. His world was the future he was forced to leave behind. That’ll toughen anyone.
7 Zelda Gaiden
The game that would establish much of what would ultimately become Majora’s Mask, Zelda Gaiden was yet another Nintendo 64DD game that didn’t see the light of day. That said, its concepts exist far more fully than Ura Zelda’s, serving as the basis for most of Majora’s Mask. Notably serving as the basis for the time system.
Interestingly, Zelda Gaiden was intended to feature a seven day cycle, not a three day cycle. It would have taken advantage of the 64DD, but the concept likely proved too all-consuming for Nintendo. Majora’s Mask is complicated enough with three days, seven would have been serious overkill.
6 Dodongo’s Cavern And Inside Jabu-Jabu’s Belly
It’s easy to assume that Link was transported back to the moment he pulled the Master Sword, but there’s simply no way that would work logistically. By that point, Ganondorf had already taken over Hyrule. Link actually gets sent back to right before he meets Princess Zelda. As a result, while he may not need the Spiritual Stones anymore, the Goron and Zora still need help.
Not only did Ganondorf seal up Dodongo’s Cavern, infesting it with Dodongo, Princess Ruto is still inside of Jabu-Jabu at this point. Link would realistically need to redo both dungeons after selling out Ganondorf.
5 Link Has A Growth Spurt
The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask lifts a lot from Ocarina of Time, but it actually uses an altered version of Link’s character model. Not only is the new character model far higher in resolution, Link’s face & clothes are more details and he’s actually a bit taller. Not as tall as adult Link, but considerably taller than young Link.
After all, Link is older in Majora’s Mask. More importantly, however, a taller Link means that he’d look more pulling off adult Link feats. Majora’s Mask takes place in Ocarina’s past, but the difficulty curve and level design treats itself as if it’s in Ocarina’s future.
4 Link Reforges The Kokiri Sword
Along with an updated character model, Link also got an updated sword model. Gone is his puny knife, the Kokiri Sword is a proper longsword now. Though that does beg the question: how did Link reforge it? More importantly, did he have to ask permission? Ocarina of Time clearly states that Link is only borrowing the sword.
Either way, Link had to have found someway to turn that knife into an actual weapon fit for a warrior. As far as Hyrule goes, though, his only options are the two Biggoron in Death Mountain. Considering the Kokiri Sword doesn’t break, Link likely went for the proper blacksmith in the family.
3 Link Spends A Lot Of Time At Lon Lon Ranch
Twilight Princess not so subtly suggests that Link ends up settling down with Malon. If nothing else, he has to become a farm since TP Link lives on a farm and he’s a direct descendent of the Hero of Time. In regards to Majora’s Mask, though, Link is in full possession of Epona despite not being old enough to own a horse or rich enough to buy one.
The only logical explanation is that Link earned Epona over time, bonding with her on Lon Lon Ranch before heading off for Termina. Since his relationship with Malon and Talon were so sound, they let him keep the horse as a gesture of good faith. This would also explain Link and Epona are depicted so closely in the game.
2 Link Befriends The Royal Family
Considering Link spends two-thirds of the game with it in his inventory, it’s easy to take the Ocarina of Time’s role in Majora’s Mask for granted. Link has it at the beginning of the game because Zelda gifted it to him. Simple enough, but there are some holes missing. The game never expresses why Zelda would give him the Ocarina.
In Ocarina of Time, it’s because Ganondorf is on the cusp of victory. No such threat exists before Link leaves, though, meaning that Zelda gave it to him as a genuine gift. Knowing Link also spoke with King in regards to Ganondorf, it’s likely Link earned his way into the Royal Family’s inner circle.
1 Link Leaves Kokiri Forest Behind (For Good)
Considering Kokiri Forest is more or less wiped off the map by the time Twilight Princess rolls around, Link likely never returned to his childhood home. Considering the fact that Lost Woods doesn’t exclusively lead into Kokiri Forest, it’s entirely possible that Link returns from Termina in Goron City or Zora’s Domain.
This means that the last time Link steps foot in Kokiri Forest is when he goes into the Lost Woods to find Navi. Needless to say, it’s unlikely he ever met Navi again, either. The period between Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask really sheds light on how sad the Hero of Time’s life was.