How Koei Tecmo Landed Hyrule Warriors Age of Calamity

hyrule warriors age of calamity title screen logo

The age-old proverb is that success breeds additional success. While maintaining positive momentum is challenging, the start of the journey is often the most difficult phase. Earning the trust of key influencers is paramount and requires time and proven excellence. The developer behind the popular hack-and-slash Dynasty Warriors series, Koei Tecmo, not only earned Nintendo’s trust but also landed the opportunity to develop a mainline Legend of Zelda game: Hyrule Warriors Age of Calamity. Let’s recap the series of events that led to the unprecedented collaboration between Koei Tecmo and the Zelda team.

A Breakthrough Opportunity – Hyrule Warriors (2014)

Throughout the early 2000s, the video game industry associated Koei Tecmo with the Warriors franchises. Known for intense hack-and-slash action, Dynasty Warriors and Samurai Warriors achieved modest success. Both franchises have collectively sold over 40 million copies worldwide; however, most entries typically sell under 1 million units. In an effort to bolster the company’s influence, Koei Tecmo developer Yosuke Hayashi proposed a collaboration with Nintendo.

Leveraging the company’s success with the Bandai Namco cross-over game One Piece: Pirate Warriors, the team at Koei Tecmo proposed a Warriors-style game modeled after the Legend of Zelda series. Zelda Producer Eiji Aonuma agreed to the concept and gave Koei Tecmo use of the Zelda IP to develop a spin-off game. While the news inspired the Koei Tecmo staff, Satora Iwata was careful to emphasize that Hyrule Warriors was not a mainline entry in the Zelda series.

Despite its label as a spin-off title, Hyrule Warriors told an original story that captivated the Zelda community. New character Linkle quickly became a fan-favorite and garnered support for a female Zelda protagonist. Overall, the game sold well with over a million units sold within the game’s first year.

Expanded Influence – Fire Emblem Warriors (2017)

Capitalizing on the success of Hyrule Warriors, Koei Tecmo pitched another cross-over title to Nintendo: Fire Emblem Warriors. Nintendo quickly obliged. But development on a Fire Emblem spin-off greatly differed from Hyrule Warriors. While Nintendo owned the intellectual property, independent studio Intelligent Systems is the main developer of the series. Therefore, Koei Tecmo needed to collaborate with a well-respected Nintendo partner.

The development cycle was a resounding success and enhanced Koei Tecmo’s reputation among Nintendo executives. Although Fire Emblem Warriors was another spin-off title, Koei Tecmo impressed Intelligent Systems with its deep understanding of Fire Emblem lore. As a result of the newfound partnership, Intelligent Systems solicited the help of Koei Tecmo during the production of its next mainline game: Fire Emblem Three Houses.

Coming of Age – Persona 5 Scramble (2020)

Koei Tecmo refused to rest on its laurels. Seeking the creative freedom to develop a mainline cross-over title using the Warriors-style gameplay, Koei Tecmo approached renowned JRPG studio Atlus. Referencing the success of Hyrule Warriors and Fire Emblem Warriors, the KT staff insisted on more creative autonomy. Atlus not only agreed to the proposal but also offered its most valuable franchise: Shin Megami Tensei Persona.

Desiring to maximize the success of Persona 5, Atlus wanted to create a direct sequel; however, the company was actively engaged in the development of Shin Megami Tensei V. Atlus simply did not have the resources to simultaneously work on another mainline Persona game. Koei Tecmo rose to the challenge by offering to develop a mainline entry using its Warriors-style gameplay. Atlus approved, and Persona 5 Scramble sold nearly 200,000 copies at launch. Persona 5 Scramble proved that Koei Tecmo had the skill to develop a mainline entry for a notable franchise.

A Most Ambitious Project – Hyrule Warriors Age of Calamity (2020)

Developing a mainline entry for a renowned third-party studio is monumental, but expounding upon the greatest video game series of all time is unprecedented. Yet with Nintendo’s surprise reveal on Twitter, Hyrule Warriors Age of Calamity is Koei Tecmo’s official addition to the mainline Zelda story. Age of Calamity will tell the prequel story to Breath of the Wild by expounding upon Calamity Ganon’s destruction of Hyrule. The game also features voiced cut-scenes, remastered soundtracks, and expanded lore.

Although Eiji Aonuma had direct control of the narrative, Koei Tecmo was directly responsible for the gameplay and overall aesthetic. Should the game achieve critical acclaim, Nintendo could trust Koei Tecmo with other mainline franchises, such as Fire Emblem, Mario, Pokemon, and others. The future has never been brighter for the newest member of Nintendo’s quasi second-party studios.


But we want to know what you think. Are you familiar with Dynasty Warriors or Samurai Warriors? Are you excited a prequel to Breath of the Wild? What do you think about the inclusion of Hyrule Warriors Age of Calamity in the official Legend of Zelda timeline? Let us know in the comments below or the social media links on the right. Also, be sure to check out our other news items on PokemonModern WarfareCapcomBlizzard and more.

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