Nintendo wasn't so sure about The Legend of Zelda's hack-and-slash spin-off being "good" at first, worrying that it could "drop" the revered RPG series' "pristine image"

Hyrule Warriors trailer screenshot showing Link, a blond male character wearing green cloth amor with metal plated shoulders while wielding the Master Sword
(Image credit: Nintendo)

Despite standing strong as one of Nintendo's successful spin-off titles now, Hyrule Warriors initially caused concerns regarding its overall quality and potential for popularity outside of Japan.

Speaking in his recent Kit & Krysta podcast on Paper Mario and all things Switch-related, former Nintendo of America senior public relations manager Kit Ellis reveals that the US-side team wasn't so sure about Hyrule Warriors' global release. The surprising revelation comes during the Q&A portion of the co-host's podcast when one fan questions whether Ellis ever released "a game that other people in the company thought was bad or wouldn't live up to expectations" while working at Nintendo.

"The one game that immediately came to mind for me with this question was the original Hyrule Warriors," Ellis explains. He says that the game's premise was "definitely eye-opening at the time" as it combined Zelda with Dynasty Warriors, an undoubtedly iconic yet niche Japanese hack-and-slash series with an upcoming 2025 entry. "Within Nintendo of America, there was a lot of worry of like, 'this game's not going to be good' or 'this is going to drop the status of Zelda.'" Ellis continues, stating that the team actually considered going as far as telling Japan's Nintendo branch that it's "not going to put it out - just keep it in Japan."

Most of the studio's fears surrounding Hyrule Warriors had to do with the global perception of the Zelda series as a whole as US developers wanted "to keep this pristine image" of the beloved action-adventure franchise. In the end, the first spin-off went on to release worldwide in 2014 and was met with a generally positive reception. Positive enough, in fact, to spark an entire Hyrule Warriors series with limited editions, ports, sequels - you name it. As Ellis puts it, there is indeed "a surprisingly big audience for these games."

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Anna Koselke
Staff Writer

After spending years with her head in various fantastical realms' clouds, Anna studied English Literature and then Medieval History at the University of Edinburgh, going on to specialize in narrative design and video game journalism as a writer. She has written for various publications since her postgraduate studies, including Dexerto, Fanbyte, GameSpot, IGN, PCGamesN, and more. When she's not frantically trying to form words into coherent sentences, she's probably daydreaming about becoming a fairy druid and befriending every animal or she's spending a thousand (more) hours traversing the Underdark in Baldur's Gate 3. If you spot her away from her PC, you'll always find Anna with a fantasy book, a handheld video game console of some sort, and a Tamagotchi or two on hand.