Nintendo surprises all its fans with a Zelda prequel announcement

When Nintendo announced that Super Mario 3D All-Stars was coming out in September and not around Thanksgiving, I knew there was the possibility of a holiday release for a game that wasn’t on the radar. That intuition turned out to be correct as Nintendo unleashed a surprise announcement on Tuesday morning for Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity, a Zelda game that would tell the story of the Great Calamity that happened 100 years before the events of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

The cinematic scenes look epic, and this game might be worth playing for Zelda fans like myself just for the story alone. However, I’ve never been impressed by the gameplay in the original Hyrule Warriors. The game, which was first released for Wii U in 2014 and later ported to 3DS and Switch, is based on the hack-and-slash Dynasty Warriors series, but it features characters, items, and lore from The Legend of Zelda series.

Instead of adventuring, exploring dungeons, and solving puzzles like one would do in a Legend of Zelda game, Hyrule Warriors has the player mauling through thousands of enemies using brute force. It’s a Dynasty Warriors game with a Zelda coat of paint.

Anything with “Zelda” in it sells, though, which is why Nintendo teamed up with Koei Tecmo to develop the game. This way they could keep putting out Zelda content while fans waited and waited for Breath of the Wild to come out. Hyrule Warriors wasn’t really a Zelda game; it just used the brand to generate sales.

Does that mean that Age of Calamity will be the same? The biggest difference between Age of Calamity and the first Hyrule Warriors appears to be the connection to other Zelda games. Hyrule Warriors featured its own story separate from other titles, while Age of Calamity is directly linked to Breath of the Wild. The trailer doesn’t tell us how different from a gameplay standpoint the games will be, but the “Hyrule Warriors” tag makes me think we can expect something similar.

Does that mean I’m skipping Age of Calamity when it comes out on November 20? I’ll wait to see more, as Nintendo teased that more information is coming later this month. My heart really wants to like this game, but my head tells me it’s a clever ploy by Nintendo to satisfy Zelda-starved fans while the long-awaited Breath of the Wild sequel continues its development. That doesn’t mean Age of Calamity can’t be fun, but it won’t be a real Zelda game.

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