Hyrule Warriors Interview – Breaking Down The Dynasty Warriors And Zelda Overlap
At E3 2014 this year, I had the chance to chat with the creative force behind the upcoming Hyrule Warriors. I spoke with general producer Hisashi Koinuma and development producer Yosuke Hayashi from Tecmo Koei, and supervisor and producer on the Zelda series in general, Eiji Aonuma of Nintendo. We discussed how a game in the Dynasty Warrior series could overlap with Zelda, what the feedback from fans has been like, and what sort of characters we can expect to see in the game.
Note: responses without attribution come from Koinuma and Hayashi, as both of their responses were translated by a single translator. Another translator handled Aonuma’s responses, and they have been attributed as such.
How long has Hyrule Warriors been in development?
From the original concepts and the original discussions, the very start has probably been about two years and then it’s probably been about a year and a half of actual development and working on the game.
That seems like a short development cycle for an HD Wii U game.
Tecmo Koei has released several Wii U titles already. We’re used to development on Wii U, so it wasn’t that much of a hurdle for us. We were able to focus just on making this game what it is, focusing on the Zelda elements and bringing those into a Dynasty Warriors-style game. It really wasn’t that hard.
[Eiji Aonuma] From where I sit as a member of Nintendo on the outside looking in, I am really impressed with how quickly the development process happens at Tecmo Koei.
Who approached who in terms of offering up the idea?
It started with the Tecmo Koei side. We’ve done other collaborations with Dynasty Warriors games, and so we brought the idea up to Nintendo and asked if we could use Zelda in a Dynasty Warriors type of game.
[Eiji Aonuma] To be honest, I hadn’t had that much experience or exposure with Dynasty Warriors games, but it was very serendipitous because I had just happened to be playing a Dynasty Warriors collaboration title at the time this idea was proposed to me. It was almost like the stars aligned.
Note: this was not the setting of the interview. It looked more like this.
Is there an effort being made to inject Zelda mechanics into the gameplay? Or is it more focused towards the Dynasty Warriors side?
Of course we’re looking for Zelda fans. We definitely want Zelda fans to play the game and enjoy the game for what it is. In the main storyline you’re only playing as Link, but now fans will get a chance to play as some characters they have never been able to play as before. Dynasty Warriors, as a series, is known for having easy-to-do action. It’s easy for people who aren’t hardcore action gamers to get into and have fun with.
This being a collaboration title – a celebration of Zelda and the universe of Zelda – we want people who can just jump in and have fun with it for what it is and enjoy the aspects of Zelda that are in the game.
[Eiji Aonuma] Because the gameplay itself is more traditionally Dynasty Warriors with the look of Zelda sort of placed on top of it, I can understand someone assuming this is for Dynasty Warriors fans. But among the development team at Tecmo Koei that is working in this project, there are many Zelda fans. I certainly get the sense that they really love the Zelda universe and really appreciate what the experiences we have offered have been, and they have that insight to provide players with the experience and gameplay they want to experience with these characters they love.
In my hands-on demo, I found bombs and sort of used them as a puzzle solving tool to break through walls and defeat the King Dodongo boss. Will we see more traditional Zelda tools and puzzle solving in Hyrule Warriors?
We are all Zelda fans making the game, and we’ve strived to put in elements and situations that Zelda fans will get and enjoy. We don’t think of it necessarily as puzzles. It’s a Zelda game. You want to throw bombs and you want to blow up walls and boulders, or throw bombs in the Dodongo’s mouth. You want to use the hookshot. We’re trying to find ways to use those elements in ways that work in this game. There will definitely be those situations and scenes from the Zelda series in this game, but we don’t necessarily consider them puzzles.
For more details on Hyrule Warriors, and some hints for the next core Zelda game, head to page two.
Will we see hints about the new Zelda coming to Wii U in Hyrule Warriors? Is Hyrule Warriors a test bed for some of the action mechanics that will appear in the next Zelda?
[Eiji Aonuma] In the trailer I talked about the idea of the open world and how we’re going to really bring it to life in the next installment of the series. With Hyrule Warriors, it’s not a huge open world, but it’s a large area with battles taking place all the time. Link has to figure out what his strategy is, what his part is going to be, and how he is going to take over as many of these areas as possible. In that sense, it’s unlike the traditional Zelda titles where there is a process – a flow you have to follow. You start at A, you go to B, you get the key kind of thing. My goal is to eliminate that sort of formula and make it more of, as in with Hyrule Warriors, this large space where you have to figure out what your experience is going to be within that space. You define it
In a previous Nintendo Direct presentation, you outlined a few pillars of the Zelda series you wanted to rethink. One was taking dungeons out of order, which saw fruition in Link Between Worlds, and the other pillar you mentioned wanting to rethink was playing Zelda by yourself. Is Hyrule Warriors a step in that direction? Are we going to have to multiplayer in the next Zelda?
[Eiji Aonuma] The two-player functionality of Hyrule Warriors is actually something that has traditionally been done in the Dynasty Warriors series, but they’ve changed because of the hardware and the second screen on your GamePad. Instead of having a splitscreen on the television, you have one-player playing on the television and one on the GamePad. When I was talking back about making Zelda more than just a single-player experience? That’s something you will see in the future, maybe next year.
In the direct presentation, you said you will be able to play as your favorite characters. How obscure are you planning on going? And will there be any totally original characters?
It might be kind of rude to Zelda fans and some of the characters to call them obscure, but we have definitely tried to make a line-up that Zelda fans will enjoy and say, “Oh! You put that one in there!” That’s definitely something we hope players feel. In regard to new characters, Link, Impa, Princess Zelda – these are all characters that exist in the Zelda universe, but they are all original designs. We will be talking about original characters in the future.
So, they will exist? Can we say that at least?
What are your reactions to the feedback on the announcement of Hyrule Warriors?
We definitely check fan feedback. We were most nervous right before the Nintendo Direct reveal. We were all watching live as well and checking to see what fan reaction was. It was actually more positive than we had anticipated. We were able to relax a little bit and confirm that we were going in the right direction with the ideas we had for the game. It was something that was resonating with fans that they would appreciate, and we started seeing a lot of comments from fans saying, “We think this should be in there!” or “This element should be in there!” and “They should do things like this!” and a lot of those kinds of ideas starting popping up and there are actually several of those ideas that we took and put into the game. We’ll talk more about that at a later date, but there are definitely those elements that we put in because of fan reaction and fan comments to what they saw. It’s been reassuring to see there a lot of people who have said, “We wanted to play a Zelda game like this too!”
Any final thoughts on the game?
Hyrule Warriors, for us is a celebration of Zelda and the workld of Zelda, and the entire universe of Zelda. We definitely want Zelda fans to enjoy the game for what it is – a celebration of the whole universe. But for people who aren’t familiar with the Zelda series, as well, this is an easy way to get into that universe and meet a lot of different characters, play with a lot of different characters from the series, and sort of get their feet wet in the series. I think the game is easy enough for people who are unfamiliar to pick it up and play and have fun with. We hope both Zelda fans and non-Zelda fans will check it out.
[Eiji Aonuma] I’d also like to ask those fans of the Dynasty Warriors series to play this one as their entry point to The Legend of Zelda. Link Between Worlds is out. Maybe after playing Hyrule Warriros they will decide to go to the store and pick it up, because the Zelda games aren’t ones you have to play in any particular order.
Hyrule Warriors is coming to Wii U on September 26. For the latest trailer for the game, head here.