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Hyrule Warriors could save the Wii U (in Japan)

After a several-month-streak of underwhelming announcements, Nintendo used the most recent Nintendo Direct to reveal a proper new video game in the Zelda franchise. Tentatively called Hyrule Warriors, the game is being developed by Tecmo Koei, and it's a Dynasty Warriors-style action title starring Link and other characters from the Zelda universe. It’s due out in 2014 for the Wii U. While this is relatively big news--it's a new Zelda game, yeah--I'm finding it tough to get too excited. Why?

Personally, I'm no fan of the Dynasty Warriors series’ mindless, infinite man-slicing, and I’m not exactly thrilled by Nintendo endorsing it in this way. But even if you don’t share my prejudices against Tecmo Koei's ancient beat-'em-up, you may still be feeling the palpable mood of underwhelming confusion that seems to be surrounding the announcement of Hyrule Warriors. As it turns out, there are a couple of very convincing reasons for its existence. Thing is, they don’t really involve most of you.

The answer to the question of "Why Hyrule Warriors?" is a resounding “Because Japan”. The Wii U is underperforming in Japan, having sold just over 1 million units there as of October. To give that number some context, there are about 10 times as many 3DS units in Japan, and roughly the same number of Wii consoles. Even Super Mario 3D World wasn’t enough to move the needle, boosting month-over-month hardware sales but ultimately coming in well below expectations, with the worst first-week sales of any 3D Mario game in Japan.

Enter Dynasty Warriors. The franchise is a consistent earner for Tecmo Koei, with this year’s Dynasty Warriors 8 selling over 200,000 units in its first week, and last year’s One Piece-themed spin-off being one of the best-selling games of 2012 in Japan. Even Dynasty Warriors 7 outsold The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword by a wide margin in 2011. Nintendo is in dire need of a decent installed base for the Wii U, particularly in Japan. And if there’s any franchise they should hitch their wagon to in the East, it’s Dynasty Warriors.

Now, the second reason this is a good move by Ninty is that we haven’t seen a proper, new 3D Zelda game since Skyward Sword, and it’s likely we won’t see one anytime soon. Even if you hate the very concept of Hyrule Warriors with a passion, as I do, getting a solid Wii U fanbase established in Japan is pretty darn important to the future of Nintendo's franchises; no sales = no money to develop proper, new Zelda games. And, to bring in more overly-simplified maths: any new Zelda game will increase Wii U sales significantly more than no new Zelda game. Yes, watching Link slog through hundreds of mundane-looking soldiers to fight one cool monster may seem like a bastardization of a long-beloved franchise, but the reasoning for it is sound. Hyrule Warriors is a bit like Navi: extremely annoying, but necessary to Link's survival.

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27 comments

  • magic_muffin_man - December 24, 2013 1:51 p.m.

    Man, screw you GamesRadar: Hyrule Warriors looks sick. I mean, Dynasty Warriors is already a pretty good series, so there's no harm in painting Zelda all over it.
  • TheGooseinator - December 19, 2013 12:22 p.m.

    This game looks pretty cool. I've never really played Dynasty Warriors (or Bayonetta, or Ninja Gaiden, or any other 3D hack-and-slashes really), so this looks like a great opportunity to see what the genre has to offer.
  • Bansheebot - December 19, 2013 10:49 a.m.

    Look at it this way. A Zelda Dynasty Warriors can't be worse than a Zelda shooting gallery. (Crossbow Training)
  • J-Fid - December 19, 2013 11:01 a.m.

    And NOTHING can be worse than those CD-i games.
  • Shnubby - December 20, 2013 2:24 p.m.

    Duck walk. That is all.
  • vermicelli - December 19, 2013 1:25 a.m.

    Wii U doesn't need saving just proper promotion.
  • Errrrbo - December 19, 2013 12:48 a.m.

    The writer's argument for this game being able to save the WiiU is that "it's kinda like Dynasty Warriors"? That'd be like predicting Ninety Nine Nights would save the Xbox 360 in Japan. (it didn't) Dynasty Warriors' popularity is largely due to its historical setting and characters. Taking out that aspect will greatly reduce appeal. I don't see the game selling that well in Japan, and I certainly don't see it being a big system seller.
  • Divine Paladin - December 19, 2013 3:59 a.m.

    That's where the writer's other point comes into play. One Piece (and Gundam) have spun off DW VERY successfully. Now throw Zelda in there and I can see his point. Not that I agree with the logic, but it is a valid thought process. Besides, the 360 would always fail in Japan because there is still some prejudice against Western companies.
  • SirManguydude - December 19, 2013 10:48 a.m.

    And Fist of the North Star: Ken's Rage, which has done phenomenal in Japan as a spin-off of Dynasty Warrior.
  • Jackonomics2.0 - December 19, 2013 9:53 a.m.

    The 360 was never relevant in Japan and nobody cared. Microsoft has America in their hands
  • GOD - December 19, 2013 1:41 p.m.

    Except N3 wasn't made by Tecmo Koei. Tecmo Koei makes Dynasty Warriors AND will be making this game. It's not trying to copy Dynasty Warriors, it is Dynasty Warriors but with Zelda.
  • samsneeze - December 18, 2013 11:24 p.m.

    Think about it: Ganondorf and Link co-op in Free Mode. You can't be that.
  • Jackonomics2.0 - December 18, 2013 11:12 p.m.

    Something i noticed Everything that's not a moving person or effects, looks like Garbage. But the models that arent garbage, like specifically, look really good. Makes you wonder how the REAL Zelda will look. That scarf looks nice, can he keep it?
  • BladedFalcon - December 18, 2013 10:30 p.m.

    ....So Dynasty Warriors is essentially the Call of Duty of Japan. That's the main take away I get from this entire piece. Well, that certainly explains why so many games keep coming out from that series. And alright, this bit of context helps me understand better what Nintendo was trying to do concerning this title, although I find it hard to think it will really matter all that much as Nintendo is hoping it will. Specially if Koei is releasing a next gen version of Dynasty Warriors any time soon. But we'll see, I guess.
  • samsneeze - December 18, 2013 11:21 p.m.

    The Xtreme Legends version of Dynasty Warriors 8 was released in late November, but the Playstation 4 version of the game doesn't release until February 22, 2014. Considering that this still looks a long ways off I think that a release in late 2014 at the earliest and early to mid 2015 at the latest might do the system fine. At the very least, I doubt Koei's game will hurt the sales of it.
  • BladedFalcon - December 18, 2013 11:34 p.m.

    Hm, maybe so, but the rate in which they churn out Dynasty games, I doubt the game after Xtreme Legends will take too long after the Zelda one comes out. Eh, either way, at best this helps the sales of the Wii U in Japan long enough ti survive a few months more, but I doubt it'll be nearly enough. ...Now, if they announced that Monster Hunter 5 would be Wii U exclusive... That'd be another story entirely, methinks :P
  • samsneeze - December 19, 2013 12:14 a.m.

    Actually, there's just under a two year gap between Dynasty Warriors 7 and 8. There was a four year gap between 6 and 7. And there's usually about a year and a half gap or longer between them if you count the Xtreme Legends titles. Despite popular belief, they don't release them yearly like many people seem to think. Yeah, Monster Hunter 5 would sell a bunch of Wii Us. I just think Nintendo has always been the type of company to try and survive on its own creations and merits, rather than purely counting on outside help. It's what's hurting them more or less, but I can at least respect that.
  • Cyberninja - December 18, 2013 7:56 p.m.

    I think this game looks pretty fun from what we saw, and if Wiiu is selling 75,000 this week with no new games(Probably the ifamaous holiday boost) something like this will definitely get sales rolling for real
  • Vonter - December 18, 2013 7:50 p.m.

    Next step Destiny's Samus suit and Samus's ship. Oh who am I kidding, that'll be awesome and not likely to happen.
  • TheGooseinator - December 19, 2013 12:18 p.m.

    What they really need is a legit Metroid Prime game. The Wii U doesn't have a solid FPS exclusive, and Metroid, which is Nintendo's most appealing franchise to Americans, would certainly move units in the US. The one requirement is that it is developed by Retro or some other trusted American team; the last thing we need is another Other M.

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