A new interview over on Gamasutra with former Nintendo planner Motoi Okamoto is full of interesting tidbits, but one surreal note sticks out above the rest. Crunch time is considered a fact by many in game development, but it’s hard to imagine Shigeru Miyamoto, who the gaming community views as some sort of whimsical uncle/wizard, telling employees to stay overnight and work, but it seems that’s exactly what happens or, at least, happened at one point. And he even had a whimsical name for it.

Okamoto left in 2008, so things could be different, but he offered up a story from the Super Mario 64 DS development period.

“In those days, Miyamoto would come to us at 11 p.m., after he finished all of his board-member work,” Okamoto explained. Miyamoto would say “It’s Mario time.”

For your health

At that point, the team would have a 3-hour planning meeting, after which Miyamoto would go home at, yes, 2 a.m. Before leaving he would say to his employees, “You should return home soon, for your health.” Then they’d spend the next two or three hours writing game-design documents and writing instructions for their artists and programmers.

Okamoto said that was the craziest crunch time he’d experienced, but added that if Miyamoto was working so much, it seemed impossible for the team to give any less.

Every time I hear Mario exclaim that it’s Mario Time in a game, I won’t be able to think of anything but having to work until 5am.