We talk to Brace Yourself Games about how an indie dev got the keys to the Zelda car.
Cadence of Hyrule marks a fairly unprecedented step for Nintendo. While it’s fundamentally a mash-up of The Legend of Zelda and Crypt of the NecroDancer, the next Zelda game is still being made by a small, third-party indie developer, and is even being called a “Nindie” by Nintendo itself. As exciting as the announcement is, how the heck did that happen?
To find out, I spoke with Ryan Clark, founder of Crypt of the NecroDancer developer Brace Yourself Games. While Clark says they initially approached Nintendo to potentially use Zelda in some smaller way like DLC, the mutual interest in working together grew faster than they were expecting.
“We were considering making a new Nintendo Switch project,” Clark explained to me “and we imagined how cool it would be to have Zelda characters appearing in NecroDancer; say as DLC.” But Nintendo’s interest apparently grew beyond a simple DLC. “To our surprise, Nintendo was extremely interested in the prospect, and before we knew it we were working on a completely new title, mashing up NecroDancer with The Legend of Zelda!”
When Cadence of Hyrule comes out this Spring it will be Brace Yourself’s second release ever.
Nintendo has, of course, used third-party developers for major series like Mario and Zelda in the past: Ubisoft made Mario + Rabbids and put Starfox in Starlink: Battle for Atlas, and Koei Tecmo worked on both Hyrule Warriors and Fire Emblem Warriors to name a few recent ones. Even more mainline Zelda games like Minish Cap and Oracle of Seasons and Ages were developed by Capcom.
But this is different. When Cadence of Hyrule comes out this Spring it will be Brace Yourself’s second release ever. The developers working on it have far more experience than just that, of course – and, credit where it’s due, Crypt of the NecroDancer totally rules – but it’s still a studio of less than two dozen people (according to its website) making an honest-to-goodness official Zelda game.
And yes, plenty of comments and Twitter replies have made it abundantly clear to me that some folk don’t see this as a “real” Zelda game. While it’s undoubtedly a spin-off that Clark tells me “is first and foremost a new entry in the NecroDancer universe,” he also said that they “took extensive care to ensure that it could be considered to be both” a Zelda game and a Necrodancer game.
Clark is also excited about a fundamental connection the two series have: Music. Clark explained that while NecroDancer is clearly built around music, “Zelda is well known for musical compositions among games,” and often contains instruments as a core mechanic of its own. He said “being able to mix these two together into an awesome musical mashup of gameplay is definitely one of the most exciting points!”
Whatever its connection to the greater Zelda series and whatever you label it, it’s pretty amazing that Cadence of Hyrule is happening at all.
Tom Marks is IGN’s Deputy Reviews Editor and resident pie maker, and he’s excited for Cadence of Hyrule no matter how you label it. You can follow him on Twitter.