[Nintendad Coffeehouse] The Ramblings of a madman – Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity edition

Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity

Let’s not beat our meat around the proverbial bush – Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity came out of nowhere and reinvigorated Nintendo’s 2020 offerings. While Super Mario 3D All-Stars and Pikmin 3 DX are welcome additions to the Nintendo Switch library, they’re both nothing more than ports. Yes, the idea of playing Super Mario 64, Sunshine and Galaxy on the Switch isn’t something to be scoffed at and returning to the world of Pikmin, in its third iteration will be a sheer joy, especially given the relatively modest sales of one and a quarter million units shipped – admittedly a consequence of the Wii U’s miserly install base. A lot of people will be experiencing Pikmin 3 DX, an absolute Darling of a Nintendo IP – as a brand new game. 

Back to Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity and just the thought of it gets the salivary glands working overtime. Not only are we being treated to an all-new Warriors game, something that offers both a mindless and addictive gameplay loop – in equal measure, but we’ll also get to experience the events that transpired 100 years prior to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of Wild. The idea of having a fully fleshed out back-story only elevates the legacy of 2017’s GOTY. Not only that, but it also demonstrates Nintendo’s own ever-increasing comfort at allowing its top-tier IPs to be experimented with, resulting in more and more unique, alternative content. For while, Hyrule Warriors is a Warriors game in name, its presence at the front of the BOTW trilogy makes it feel more AAA and shifts the focus, fairly or not, sharply onto it as a 2020 heavy hitter. 

Malice in Wonderland

Due to the unprecedented nature of COVID and its impact on the games industry, 2020 has seen game development impacted, due to a plethora of factors. Working from home presents game developers with all kinds of new challenges and Nintendo, despite its position as a behemoth of the industry is no different. Their line up for 2020 has surely been augmented, as the fear of a second wave partially cripples them. Playing all of their cards early could leave them with egg on their face, as inevitable delays happen, and publishing all of their planned content could leave them short come to the springtime. The point I’m trying to make is; would Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity released now, had it not been for the pandemic? Would Breath of the Wild 2 have been ready otherwise? Do the events of Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity put things in motion for the BOTW2 as well as having the obvious ramifications that they hold for Breath of the Wild? I guess, only time will tell.

Moving on from the game’s relevance to any aspect of Breath of the Wild or its subsequent sequel, seeing the inclusion of young Impa is a loving nod to a Zelda title that was previously rumoured earlier this year and could potentially see the light of day on Switch for The Legend of Zelda’s 35th anniversary next year – The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. After all, Hyrule Warrior titles are nothing if not fan-service heavy. 

Sheikah, rattle n’ roll

Impa’s own importance to the franchise can’t be understated and it’s exciting to see who else will be added to the roster ahead of the game’s launch in November. Given Breath of the Wild’s relative lack of NPCs, the pickings are potentially slim. I saw Brian Altano tweet that the Crazy Flower Lady would be a worthy inclusion and I wholeheartedly agree. Given that in the OG Hyrule Warriors we could, somewhat obscurely, fight as Agitha – essentially the crazy bug girl – it’s not too far out of the left field to envision. Past that, crossdressing Link would be a riot, though I’m not sure if he/she would be able to bring a unique move set to the table. Bolson would be a great character too, but given that the events of Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity take place 100 years prior to Breath of the Wild, it seems folly to think he would be little more than a twinkle in his grandparent’s eyes. Which I guess potentially rules out Crazy Flower Lady too!

Using this logic, the obvious choice is for characters in the same vein as Impa. We could see Purah make an appearance, her own back story fleshed out and it would be just wonderful to experience more of Robbie. The Akkala resident was named as a result of a fan campaign to see the late, great, eclectic and exponentially talented marvel of a man Robin Williams honoured, due to his own love of the Legend of Zelda franchise. In true Nintendo fashion, they went above and beyond and created a character worthy of the iconic actors own inimitable persona.

Yiga-tta be kidding me

Past the human aspect, the limited scope of Breath of the Wild’s enemies likely means we won’t see a great array of foes, however, the recent TGS gameplay footage has shown giant variants of recognisable enemies, so that should be interesting to see play out. That being said, there is one group that it would be bonza to see fleshed out. Of course, I’m referring to the Yiga Clan – the faction of the Sheikah tribe that turned their back on the Royal Family of Hyrule and instead pledged fielty to Calamity Ganon. Given the inclusion of Impa as a playable character, it seems likely that we’ll see more of them in Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity. 

Finally, let’s address the literally tiny, yet figuratively gargantuan elephant in the room. Baby Guardian. We all know how this story is going to end. This is the equivalent of getting attached to characters in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, or going on a quiz show with Alexander Armstrong and Richard Osman. To stick with the Star Wars comparison, Baby Guardian is akin to Anakin Skywalker in The Phantom Menace. We’ve seen the end game, his destiny is pre-determined and there’s nothing we can do to change it.

With that being said, let’s just enjoy the ride and see how this all plays out when Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity releases on Nintendo Switch on November 20th.

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