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Meet the People Behind Hyrule Warriors

Nintendo's rolling the dice with its Koei Tecmo collaboration, and it's actually influencing the next Zelda game.

There was something in the air when Koei Tecmo wanted to pitch Nintendo on fusing The Legend of Zelda with Dynasty Warriors. At the time, Zelda series producer Eiji Aonuma was playing a Dynasty Warriors game.

If you've ever wanted to fight hundreds of enemies while swinging the Master Sword, Hyrule Warriors has you covered.

"I happened to be playing another Warriors game at that time," said Aonuma. "As I was playing it, I was imagining what it might look like if it took place in the Zelda universe. The timing couldn’t have been better! When I approached Mr. Miyamoto about the idea of moving forward with a project like this, he approved it."

The result is Hyrule Warriors, a game that's plucking pieces from Zelda and dropping them into Dynasty Warriors, a series that generates as much love from diehard fans as it does confused eye rolling from players who don't understand how the series is still going. It represents a big departure for the traditionally conservative Zelda series, but for Zelda, it's a time of change.

"Certainly, it’s not that I wasn’t without my concerns about opening up this new gameplay style for the Zelda universe, but I’ve made several Zelda games in my time at Nintendo," said Aonuma. "We’ve been talking a lot lately about rethinking the conventions of Zelda, and really knocking down those obstacles and opening up the possibilities for the franchise. I think this might be one of those ways that we can do that."

Back at E3, I sat down with Aonuma and several members of Hyrule Warriors' creative staff, including development producer Yosuke Hayashi, a man familiar with Nintendo collaborations. Tecmo's Team Ninja created the polarizing Metroid: Other M, and Hayashi's involved with Hyrule Warriors, as well.

The idea for Hyrule Warriors came from Koei Tecmo. Executive producer Hisashi Koinuma was one of the people involved with the project at an early stage, including the original pitch to Nintendo.

"When we’re working on a collaboration, you need to convince the other party that 'hey, we’re gonna get married. This is a good thing!'" said Koinuma.

Koinuma claimed he wasn't nervous about asking to use some of Nintendo's most beloved characters, but both Koinuma and Hayashi were freaked when it was time for the game to be announced on Nintendo Direct.

"We were really scared of Zelda fans," laughed Hayashi.

When the Nintendo Direct started, everyone involved with Hyrule Warriors stopped working.

"They were watching it with bated breath," he said. "They see it [the announcement] come out, and they saw the reaction was actually positive! It was really positive. That gave us a lot of confidence, and let us breathe again. [laughs]"

The fan reaction came at a time when Koei Tecmo was tip-toeing with the game, especially careful about what pieces of Zelda to drop into Hyrule Warriors. Once it was clear fans were getting behind the game in a big way, the team started looking for all sorts of new easter eggs to drop in for series diehards.

"It was a confirmation of the idea, confirmation that we were going in the right direction," he said.

Before the Nintendo Direct, Aonuma himself had to calm the staff down.

"I actually had to encourage them to not worry so much, not to be so scared. [laughs]" he said.

Aonuma has been hands-off on Hyrule Warriors lately, busy building a brand-new Zelda game for Wii U. The Zelda games have not seen a fundamental shift in design for some time, a criticism that eventually reached a breaking point with The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. Both Hayashi and Aonuma articulated a struggle to honor what fans have come to expect from Zelda, while pushing Zelda in new directions. This doesn't just come from people on the Internet, either. It's within the studios actually building the games.

Part of the appeal of Hyrule Warriors is the fan service, allowing fans to play as their favorite characters.

"One interesting thing that’s happened is that when we talk to Nintendo and ask them about ideas and say 'hey, what about doing this?' They’re generally fairly positive," said Hayashi. "'Yeah, try new things!' They’ll give us ideas. 'Hey, why don’t you try this out?' It’s an open discussion and very creative. But when we bring them back and discuss those ideas with the Zelda fans internally, they come back and say 'no, that’s not Zelda, you can’t do that!' [laughs] They are the ones who are really strict about what you can and can’t do."

"We certainly have Zelda fans within our development team, as well," said Aonuma. "We have people who were raised as kids on Zelda. I can come up with just an idea and off-the-cuff say 'let’s not do this' and they’ll just insist 'nooooo, don’t touch that! That’s not acceptable!' Then, I’ll sit down with them and go 'why do you feel like that? Why do you feel this way?' and we’ll have a conversation. We’ll come up with something that’s acceptable both to myself and to the very ardent fans of the series. I think what we’re ultimately able to come up with is something really unique and special that offers that something new, while, at the same time, staying true to what the fans of the series really come to love."

In fact, working on Hyrule Warriors has given Aonuma some pause about his own game. While he wasn't ready to divulge many specifics, Aonuma did tease how the dynamics of Zelda might be changing next year.

"You have this map and there are battle areas all across this expansive battlefield," he said, describing Hyrule Warriors. "Things are happening, regardless of whether or not you’re in this particular space. How you approach reclaiming these different areas on the map really changes how you progress through the game. So it’s really, really dynamic, it’s really, really expansive. It also increases replay value because if you change your strategy, your process will also change. Having worked on a game that has this kind of expansive battlefield style has really opened my eyes to new discoveries, and my thought and approach to gameplay has really deepened. I see many, many possibilities now that I’ve worked on this project with Tecmo Koei."

Patrick Klepek on Google+
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Posted by Sparklehorse

Cool. Thanks for the article.

Edited by BBQBram

Zelda is convincing me to buy a Warriors game. I'm a terrible human being.

Posted by sub_o

Jeff is on vacation for a week, first Yoshi, and now a Dynasty Warrior article?

Why don't you start posting about stealth, Resident Evil, bone-full chicken wings, anime, and JRPGs?

Edited by BoOzak

I played the Orochi games because they threw in Ninja Gaiden characters and I ended up enjoying it. So i'll definately play this when it comes out.

And a Zelda game that feels less static and barren is always a good thing, as much as I hated racing against the clock in Majora's Mask the world they built felt really alive compared to prior games. So if they can recapture that on a grander scale I'll be happy.

Posted by DeF

@bbqbram said:

Zelda is convincing me to buy a Warriors game. I'm a terrible human being.

Why? Now you can actually judge for yourself if you like that kind of game or not instead of having internet personalities tell you they all suck by default! That's the opposite of being a terrible human being! :)

Edited by JoshtheValiant
Posted by Shaanyboi

Game seems like it would be fun on a harder difficulty

Posted by Niflhe

I'm cautiously optimistic about this game. I love me some Dynasty Warriors, and some Zelda, so I'm hopeful. Its nice to see the Zelda team embracing some deviations from the Zelda norm.

Edited by follow001

This game seems like silly, dumb fun which has me cautiously exited.

Posted by MATATAT

The more I see about this game the more I'm actually interested in playing it.

Posted by conmulligan

I still have zero interest in this game, but if its existence is indicative of Nintendo taking a less conservative approach to Zelda then I'm all for it.

Posted by darukaru

The best thing about the licensed Musou games is that it seems like Omega Force lets itself cut loose a little more than in the "core" games. Some of the stuff they did in One Piece PW2 was kinda nuts (and legitimately difficult if you're trying to S-rank stages on the hardest difficulty) and it seems like they're taking that same spirit to Hyrule Warriors. Looking forward to it.

Edited by ohrenclez

I only ever played one game of the dynasty warriors series...i was really disappointed, and never touched a title of the series again

This is getting me really excited for a warriors title....something that i really never could picture myself saying^^

Posted by TheTerribleFamiliar

I was ridiculed by two of my Wii U owning friends for saying I have great interest in this game. It made me wonder how many people will disregard it because of their feelings about Dynasty Warriors - some of which are founded completely upon other people's reviews online instead of actually playing any of the games in the series.

I'm looking forward to this. Another unique experience on the Wii U.

Posted by Video_Game_King

@def said:

@bbqbram said:

Zelda is convincing me to buy a Warriors game. I'm a terrible human being.

Why? Now you can actually judge for yourself if you like that kind of game or not instead of having internet personalities tell you they all suck by default! That's the opposite of being a terrible human being! :)

Now if only more people would take this stance with more video games.

Posted by Hailinel

Nice write-up, Patrick!

Is it September 26th, yet?

Posted by Mezmero

I still play Pirate Warriors 2 from time to time. Gotta get all those pocket coins, for some reason. It's mad tedious yo. The difference is I've seen every episode and movie of One Piece and I've probably played almost every Legend of Zelda game but maybe finished 2 or 3 of them. I never felt much attachment to any character other than Link because he's always shown to be the one bad emmer effer who's strong enough to destroy the big bad at the end of the game. Making any of the ancillary characters into believable badasses in combat is kind of a hard concept to swallow. Would they honestly turn someone like TIngle or Groose into something vaguely playable? This ain't no VGCW. Just let me play as a flock of chickens already.

Posted by huser

@sub_o: So all we need is a stealth based survival horror JRPG based on licensed anime characters eating bone in meat? That actually sounds kind of amazing.

Edited by BabyChooChoo

Not a huge Zelda fan, but this game seems pretty neat. I think it helps I've been on a big, weird Dynasty Warriors (including all the spinoffs and whatnot) bender lately. One day, just out of the blue, I decided I was going to start collecting and playing through that whole catalog for some reason.

I'm happy to say I'm about 4 games down. Only got like 30 to go...sigh

Posted by DeF

I was ridiculed by two of my Wii U owning friends for saying I have great interest in this game. It made me wonder how many people will disregard it because of their feelings about Dynasty Warriors - some of which are founded completely upon other people's reviews online instead of actually playing any of the games in the series.

I'm looking forward to this. Another unique experience on the Wii U.

I was once like that. I knew nothing about this series other than what Jeff & co. thought about it and that it gets ridiculed everywhere. Then I read about it, after HW got announced, from people who actually play and enjoy these games and could explain why. While I don't think this is a type of game one needs to play every version of, I also don't see why this series has become such a joke. The crowd management and battlefield strategy seems really intriguing. Of course this is another one of those types of games that doesn't lend itself well to the game review process of "play until you see credits roll, write up absolute statement with a number value attached to judge it by."

All the insane combat and strategy in this game coupled with the fanservice have me very excoted to take my first dive into this style of game.

Posted by AlisterCat

I am using this to get my twice a decade dynasty warriors fix. Patrick nailed it. Fan service sold it to me.

Posted by EuanDewar

Then, I’ll sit down with them and go 'why do you feel like that? Why do you feel this way?'

Deep.

Posted by Eribuster

The tiny bit on the next Zelda has me hopeful. The big field and sky in Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword were nice to look at it but devoid of life. Wind Waker sort of falls in to this, but little details such as seagulls and always having an island in view helps you forget.

As for Hyrule Warriors, I'm surprised that I'm becoming more excited for it. I've enjoyed my time with Dynasty Warriors 4 and Samurai Warriors (1) and have always been willing to give the series a fair shake. The video I've seen of Hyrule Warriors has me hopeful that the basic combat and movement is significantly quicker and more fluid.

Posted by Rakanakle

As a fan of Dynasty Warriors, I'm pretty excited for this. Fighting the giant boss creatures looks like it'll be more interesting (at least visually) than mowing down officers by the dozens in DW.

Will you pursue Tingle at Lon Lon Gate?

Edited by Evilsbane

.....fine ill be the bad guy I don't think it looks good, the Ganon model they showed literally looked like they put Ganon's head on Lu Bu

Still cool article.

Posted by Hailinel

@evilsbane: Lu Bu looks and plays nothing like Ganondorf at all.

Posted by MoonwalkSA

@def said:

@theterriblefamiliar said:

I was ridiculed by two of my Wii U owning friends for saying I have great interest in this game. It made me wonder how many people will disregard it because of their feelings about Dynasty Warriors - some of which are founded completely upon other people's reviews online instead of actually playing any of the games in the series.

I'm looking forward to this. Another unique experience on the Wii U.

I was once like that. I knew nothing about this series other than what Jeff & co. thought about it and that it gets ridiculed everywhere. Then I read about it, after HW got announced, from people who actually play and enjoy these games and could explain why. While I don't think this is a type of game one needs to play every version of, I also don't see why this series has become such a joke. The crowd management and battlefield strategy seems really intriguing. Of course this is another one of those types of games that doesn't lend itself well to the game review process of "play until you see credits roll, write up absolute statement with a number value attached to judge it by."

All the insane combat and strategy in this game coupled with the fanservice have me very excoted to take my first dive into this style of game.

It's pretty much that exactly, Dynasty Warriors comes out looking awful if you approach it from the perspective of a games reviewer - someone whose job is to play through a certain way and then assign a score, and who is aware of every iteration and sub-sequel and spinoff coming out, and who is used to grading things in part on how much they change from sequel to sequel. That's nothing like how a normal player would or should approach it, especially the last bit where people assume it to be stagnant just because it tells the same story and attempts the same general style of gameplay every time.

I can't speak for people who follow the franchise so closely that they play every single one of them, but Dynasty Warriors is a perfectly great series to jump into once or twice every console generation, and it's unfortunate that the stubbornness of reviewers has made them an almost completely useless resource for helping people determine which Warriors games those should be (3 or 4 and 7 or 8, for the record).

Posted by mrsmiley

The only thing I'm waiting for Nintendo to do with the Zelda series is start calling the damn thing Link instead. Or maybe go even more generic with "The Hero of Time" or something. None of these stories are actually legends about Zelda, they are the adventures of the guys saving her ass over and over. Keeping the original Zelda name for the series kind of assumes that you will always need to save some damsel in distress... whether she actually is Zelda or a different version of her.

Posted by DarkbeatDK

I'm going to pull a Ryckert here and state my opinion as a fact: Hyrule Warriors is going to be the greatest Zelda game ever made, because Dynasty Warriors is the best franchise

:D

Posted by balambfish

@huser said:

@sub_o: So all we need is a stealth based survival horror JRPG based on licensed anime characters eating bone in meat? That actually sounds kind of amazing.

I'm thinking Parasite Eve meets Bonk's Adventure.

Posted by DazzHardy

I'm really looking forward to this game. I've liked the Dynasty Warriors games since I first played a demo for the first PS2 1 (Dynasty Warriors 2), but the one's that have been a Warriors game mixed with something else have been great, especially the One Piece Pirate Warriors games.

Posted by GERALTITUDE

I loved Dynasty Warriors growing up, such a perfect co-op / play with your dumb brother game.

Zelda has wild power over me and I could totally see myself picking this up when I get my Wii U. In fact at this point it's one of the games for which I want a Wii U. Uhhh. Sorry, that sentence is disgusting. I want a Wii U. This is one of the games that makes me want one.

Posted by DeF

@mrsmiley said:

The only thing I'm waiting for Nintendo to do with the Zelda series is start calling the damn thing Link instead. Or maybe go even more generic with "The Hero of Time" or something. None of these stories are actually legends about Zelda, they are the adventures of the guys saving her ass over and over. Keeping the original Zelda name for the series kind of assumes that you will always need to save some damsel in distress... whether she actually is Zelda or a different version of her.

Might as well rename Halo to Master Chief & Friends then going by that logic. You do know how franchises and name recognition work, do you?

Posted by Video_Game_King

@huser said:

@sub_o: So all we need is a stealth based survival horror JRPG based on licensed anime characters eating bone in meat? That actually sounds kind of amazing.

I'm thinking Parasite Eve meets Bonk's Adventure.

More like a Fatal Frame/Pandora's Tower mash-up.

Posted by RuthLoose

@sub_o said:

Jeff is on vacation for a week, first Yoshi, and now a Dynasty Warrior article?

Why don't you start posting about stealth, Resident Evil, bone-full chicken wings, anime, and JRPGs?

Shush, you! Japan is glorious and we don't need your pessimism bringing the place down.

Posted by bboymaestro

I'd be okay with the Zelda peeps learning a thing or two from Musou combat. Handling crowds of enemies is something I've never enjoyed as Link.

Posted by Hailinel

Another interesting thing to note, that Patrick didn't really touch on, is that this is the first time that Team Ninja has worked on a Warriors game. It'll be interesting to see how their perspective on game design might have had influence on Hyrule Warriors, just as Hyrule Warriors is apparently informing ideas regarding the Wii U Zelda.

Posted by Mr_Creeper
@sub_o said:

Jeff is on vacation for a week, first Yoshi, and now a Dynasty Warrior article?

Why don't you start posting about stealth, Resident Evil, bone-full chicken wings, anime, and JRPGs?

If my theories are right, this might not be too far off...

Posted by LarryDavis

@bbqbram said:

Zelda is convincing me to buy a Warriors game. I'm a terrible human being.

It might cause you to realize there's a bit more to the games than most people think. I mean, they're not really deep, by any means, but they aren't really just MASH SQUARE once you finish 2-3 levels and start getting more combos, as well as equipment leveling and customization.

Most people just don't make it that far before they write them off.

Posted by Vortextk

One of my biggest negative against warriors games is how ass they look. A draw distance of nothing, poor textures, crap geometry, crazy pop in because of the draw distance, poor enemy models and little to no variety in them. I would care less that they come out way too often if when I saw them being played I felt they were actually running on the machines and not a generation behind. A lot of enemies on the field at once just isn't that big of a deal anymore, it shouldn't hinder everything else so badly.

I want to like this style of game, maybe this one will do it, if I ever buy a wii-u. Hard to put money down on much of anything current gen with a nice gaming pc and their libraries pretty bare still.

Edited by darkest4

Despite all the hate Dynasty Warriors games get on this website, I can't help but think this game just looks fun every time I see it, and well that's what games are supposed to be, fun. And I'm glad to see Nintendo experimenting like this, I'm bored of the same old same old from them.

Posted by Chrystolis

As someone with very limited experience with the Dynasty Warriors franchise, but someone who's always been curious about it, this game actually has me kind of excited. It just looks fun *shrug*

Posted by MormonWarrior

Well, Other M was an abomination so the connection isn't exactly a positive one. And I'm a big fan of Tecmo's Ninja Gaiden games. This is based on freakin' Dynasty Warriors. I'll be really surprised if this gets anything more than average reviews...but if it does maybe there's something to it.

Posted by JuggaloAcidman

Looks and sounds great but will probably suck!

Posted by Homelessbird

I might pick this up just because it's so weird. Although honestly, why isn't it weirder? It could have been an actual mash-up between the Dynasty Warriors and Zelda universe. I, for one, would love to play as Guan Yu, hookshotting my way around the Yellow Turban Rebellion with Impa at my side or whatever

Posted by ptys

Seems Nintendo invested in this one to tide their Zelda fans over till the next game is released. Hopefully that won't be more than two years away.

Posted by Igniz12

Man I dont want to be a wet blanket but as a long time suffering Dynasty Warrior fan I'd say hope for the best but expect the mediocre. I predict this game will do some things good and then some things not so good but the not so good stuff will boggle your mind cause you cant believe that no one during development thought this was not a good idea :/

Koei is a good example of monopoly gone wrong aka what happens when you have absolute control over a niche genre.

Posted by MEATBALL

This idea that Skyward Sword was just more of the same is the biggest load of bullshit.

Online
Posted by BagronkeN

Testing for bugs, ignore this.

Posted by remilia_seven_fangs

@shaanyboi:

Well if they have the same game modes as DW or SW, then you can put it on Chaos Mode and die in two hits from a Peon

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