This week’s latest Nindies Direct saw a few pleasant surprises, but none bigger than the announcement of a brand new Zelda game coming from an indie developer. The developers of Crypt of the Necrodancer approached Nintendo looking to make some tie in DLC for their title. They weren’t given the DLC, but in what we can only assume was a Willy Wonka moment they have been given free rein to create a Zelda game in their own image.
Cadence of Hyrule looks like a really fun game. However, it is also Nintendo handing over one of their biggest IPs to an indie developer. The Switch has pushed indies hard, but this is a whole new level.
Rumours have been swirling for a little while about an upcoming 2D Zelda. Most presumed they referred to the recently announced remake of Link’s Awakening, an existential crisis masquerading as a Zelda game. However, we now have a second top-down Zelda game to look forward to. Only this time, it’s fresh with every run and everyone is dancing.
Cadence of Hyrule Is a Unique Zelda
It was a bright surprise to see Nintendo trying something entirely different with a classic genre of Zelda. In this case, something different was letting an indie studio run wild with the series. Cadence of Hyrule is reportedly going to feature very similar gameplay to Brace Yourself Game’s first release, Crypt of the Necrodancer. This means the title will feel a lot like a traditional top-down Zelda. However, it’ll also bring in some Roguelite features. Indie developers have created entire genres out of iterating on a beloved retro title. Cadence of Hyrule will be a unique and creative title born from what developers have done with the Link to the Past formula.
Cadence of Hyrule resembles the sort of top-down gameplay that Nintendo has been perfecting since A Link to The Past. Their own half-remake-half-sequel, A Link Between Worlds, demonstrated that something new has to be done with top-down Zelda. The series has had its highlights, like The Minish Cap. However, remaining unchanged since the Super Nintendo hasn’t been kind to this sub-set of Zelda’s longevity. Brace Yourself Games are bringing something genuinely new to the Zelda series. This is a more exciting Zelda game than any of the other installments currently on the horizon.
Many players who count themselves as fans of the original Necrodancer grew up on those Zelda titles. It was a mish-mash of inspirations, all set to music. To see this creativity then be fed back into the Zelda series is a really good thing. This project has also used the work of some people who worked on Sonic Mania. Retro titles have fed into the indie scene, which in turn revitalizing those games that inspired them.
Can Metroid be an Indie?
The wider implication of this is Nintendo giving small developers access to their IPs. They’ve worked with many studios in a contract scenario in the past. However, this is giving full access to a small studio that has only made a single game up until now. This is actually a real departure. Cadence of Hyrule is being made by a fairly untested developer without corporate negotiations on a Who Framed Roger Rabbit scale. It opens up possibilities for other collaborations.
Samus Returns was a fun outing on 3DS but it was yet another remake. Nintendo hasn’t made an original sidescrolling Metroid since Metroid: Fusion back in 2002. These original Metroid titles have spawned an expansive genre of indie games. Hopefully, Cadence of Hyrule is setting a precedent that allows any one of the numerous fantastic Metroidvania developers to take a crack at Samus and Ridley. Nintendo haven’t made a brand new one for 12 years, maybe it’s time to give an indie developer a go.
Or, if you whisper it just quietly enough, a potential Mother 4.
Indie studios are perfectly capable of coming up with their own wholly original games that fulfill that nostalgic yearning for more Super Metroid and A Link to The Past. However, bringing them on-board to resurrect some of Nintendo’s older genres is fantastic news for both fans of these franchises and anyone who enjoys indie games. As the line between major releases and big indies gets more and more blurred each year, it’s fans of creative and fun experiences that are coming out on top.