How an Independent Developer Creates an Official Zelda Game


We talk with Brace Yourself Games about how an independent developer got the keys to the Zelda car.

By Tom Marks

The pace of Hyrule marks an unprecedented step for Nintendo. While it's basically a mix of The Legend of Zelda and Crypt of the NecroDancer, Zelda's next game is still produced by a small independent developer, and even called "Nindie" by Nintendo itself. As exciting as the announcement, how on earth did it happen?

To find out, I talked to Ryan Clark, founder of Crypt's NecroDancer developer, Brace Yourself Games. Although Clark claims to have initially contacted Nintendo to potentially use Zelda in a more modest way, like DLC, the mutual benefit of working together has grown faster than expected.

"We were thinking of creating a new Nintendo Switch project," explained Clark, "and we imagined how great it would be for Zelda characters to appear in NecroDancer; DLC. But Nintendo's interest has apparently gone beyond the simple DLC stage. "To our surprise, Nintendo was extremely interested in this prospect and, before we knew it, we were working on a brand new title, combining NecroDancer with The Legend of Zelda!"


When Cadence of Hyrule comes out this spring, it will be the second release of Brace Yourself.

Of course, Nintendo has already used third-party developers for major series such as Mario and Zelda: Ubisoft created Mario + Rabbids and put Starfox in Starlink: Battle for Atlas, and Koei Tecmo worked on Hyrule Warriors and Fire Emblem Warriors . name a few recent ones. Capcom has developed more common Zelda games like Minish Cap and Oracle of Seasons and Ages.

But it's different. When Cadence of Hyrule comes out this spring, it will be the second release of Brace Yourself. The developers who work there certainly have much more experience than that, and Crypt of the NecroDancer reigns, but it's still a studio of less than two dozen people (according to its website), which in turn makes an honest Zelda official game to kindness.

And yes, many comments and responses on Twitter have made it clear that some people do not see this as a "real" Zelda game. While this is definitely a fallout, Clark tells me that "it's first a new entry into the world of NecroDancer," he added. They have also "taken great care to ensure that it is considered both a game Zelda and Game of Necrodanse.

Clark is also excited about the fundamental connection between the two series: music. Clark explained that while NecroDancer is clearly built around music, "Zelda is well known for his musical compositions among the games" and often contains instruments as the main mechanism. He said "being able to mix these two in a funky musical mashup of gameplay is definitely one of the most exciting points!"

Regardless of how it relates to the Zelda series and what you call it, it's quite amazing that Cadence of Hyrule is happening.

Tom Marks is the deputy editor of IGN for critics and the pastry chef in residence. He is excited about Cadence of Hyrule, no matter how you name it. You can follow him on Twitter.

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