Skip to main content

Hyrule Warriors is good fun, but once upon a time Nintendo reportedly thought it would hurt the international Zelda brand

The original game first launched almost 10 years ago.

Hyrule Warriors key art showing Link with the Master Sword and his shield, dodging to the side, Prince Zelda fighting with a sword, a blue haired character using some kind of spell.
Image credit: Nintendo/ Koei Tecmo

The original Hyrule Warriors is a fun if not particularly revolutionary game, but Nintendo were apparently so worried about it, it almost kept it Japan-exclusive.

Unless it's a particularly small or niche title, most major Japanese games make it over here these days, normally day and date too. It's taken a while to get to this point, but gaming is just so globally popular these days, including some of the more eclectic titles to come out of Japan (like the now very successful Yakuza series) that it's generally a safe bet to localise them over in the West. However, back when the original Hyrule Warriors was originally gearing up to release, Nintendo of America apparently wasn't so keen on it, as it was particularly worried that it could have tarnished the Zelda brand.

Watch on YouTube

This comes from former Nintendo employees Kit Ellis and Krysta Yang, who you'll probably best remember as the frequent hosts of Nintendo Treehouse showcases. The pair now have their own podcast, simply titled the Kit & Krysta Podcast, where they frequently talk about their experiences at Nintendo, often sharing various tidbits of information about games that were released while they were working there. On the most recent episode of the podcast, which you can check out above, Hyrule Warriors came up, with Ellis describing it as "eye-opening at the time." Ellis continued, "Like, oh wait what? You're combining Zelda with Dynasty Warriors?

"Within NOA [Nintendo of America] there was a lot of worry [that] this game's not going to be good or this is going to drop the status of Zelda. Like maybe we should just tell Japan we're not going to put it out and just keep it in Japan." Clearly whoever at Nintendo of America harboured these feelings, they moved past them, with Ellis and Yang noting that they eventually "got over it" leading to Hyrule Warriors releasing on the Wii U in 2014 (though Japan did get it a whole month earlier than the rest of the world).

A couple of years later the game received a 3DS port, and there was a Switch port in 2018 too. Back in 2020 there was even a follow up, Age of Calamity, a non-canon prequel of Breath of the Wild set during the original fight with Ganon 100 years in the past. They're all quite fun games, so I'm personally glad Nintendo of America decided to release the original internationally, but I do wish it would release a port of the Japan exclusive, Zelda spinoff Freshly-Picked Tingle's Rosy Rupeeland some time.

Read this next