Hyrule Warriors is a new project announced in the December 18th, 2013 Nintendo Direct announcement. If you can’t guess already, this is a joint project between Nintendo and Tecmo Koei. Tecmo Koei is, of course, known for a number of series including Dead or Alive, Ninja Gaiden, Fatal Frame, Monster Rancher and the Romance of Three Kingdoms.
The trailer of Hyrule Warriors shows gameplay similar to Dynasty Warriors developed by Tecmo Koei’s Omega Force group. Dynasty Warriors has a bit of an interesting history as a series, but more recent installments have been third person action games with a heavy emphasis of a battlefield with as many enemies as possible. The gameplay is a basic hack and slash except on a much larger scale, killing hundreds if not thousands of enemies with some very basic objectives for each stage. Hyrule Warriors looks to be yet another spinoff in the series (such as Dynasty Warriors: Gundam and Samurai Warriors).
The reaction to this surprise announcement has been mixed. Understandably there is the worry that Nintendo is diluting their IP and betraying the quality in the Zelda series. However, there is also some positive reaction based solely on the fact that this is an interesting departure from a series that has remained very traditional in its approach.
Personally I applaud Nintendo. I understand that Nintendo is definitely working on a more conventional Zelda for the WiiU, but the reality is that A Link Between Worlds was just released and it is unlikely that the WiiU release is coming out soon. Giving the brand to a third party is a good way to fill the gap for Zelda fans. Tecmo Koei has a number of great titles under their belt and Dynasty Warriors is probably their best selling franchise. It certainly makes sense for Nintendo to look for a third party developer to keep the series rolling and Tecmo Koei is a strong, albeit different choice. It’s about time the series got some fresh ideas, and diverting this to a third party is a good way to ensure we’ll still get the Zelda game we know and love.
At the very least, it certainly looks like a better option than in the past. I have nothing but contempt for Link’s Crossbow Training that came out on the Wii. Clearly a cash grab with minimal development poured into it, at least Hyrule Historia builds on a successful engine that will give some variation to the series.
The worry for me is how Zelda is becoming more mainstream and commercialized. I’d hate for it to go the Mario route where every game Nintendo develops gets a picture of Link slapped on. I walked into a Chapters bookstore the other day and at the front was a stack of Hyrule Historia and limited edition Legend of Zelda guides. Nintendo is starting to milk the franchise with the limited edition Zelda 3DS XL and WiiU consoles and it is picking up speed. Hyrule Warriors can be seen as yet another cash grab. I’m just hoping this is to counter the WiiU’s position rather than a long term strategy.
In the end, I’m looking forward to the release. I am certain that this will not be a 10/10 game, but Nintendo went out of their comfort zone for this one. It is worrying that they are diluting one of their most beloved and high caliber series, but I’m happy that Nintendo is experimenting, first with A Link Between Worlds and now with Hyrule Warriors.