The Legend of Zelda prequel is here


The Legend of Zelda franchise is getting a prequel.

“Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity” is launching Friday. It is the first installment in the Zelda series since 2017’s “Breath of the Wild,” which sold 19.7 million copies. “Breath of the Wild” is the fourth best-selling game of all time on the Nintendo Switch, behind hits such as “Animal Crossing” and “Mario Kart.”

In “Breath of the Wild,” gamers fell in love with the hero Link’s adventures as he freely explored the world, cooking stews and avoiding giant lasers from ancient machines that crawl after him.

So it’s no surprise Nintendo would expand the franchise with another potential hit. In fact, a 2014 version of “Hyrule Warriors” which also incorporated Zelda characters reached moderate success.

“Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity” producer Yosuke Hayashi told CNN Business that Nintendo “explicitly suggested” his team combine characters and story from the 2017 smash with the Hyrule fighting gameplay.

“Age of Calamity” focuses mostly on fighting and pressing multiple buttons to activate special abilities. Link and his friends fight a great war to save the land of Hyrule from, well, calamity.

“Only bits and pieces of the story of the Great Calamity were depicted in the [‘Breath of the Wild.’],” game director Ryouta Matsushita told CNN Business. “We thought that there was a large enough volume of untold events and human drama that happened during that time to depict them through gameplay.”

“Age of Calamity” brings back many characters and tells their stories a century before the events in “Breath of the Wild” took place. It also uses the music and sound effects and incorporates the whimsical element of cooking that proved popular in “Breath of the Wild.”

But fans of the “open world” exploration style of that best-selling game may not be satisfied with this newest release. “Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity” locks users into a map where they can select locales to engage in battles but cannot walk about freely picking fruit, solving riddles and making stews, activities that made “Breath of the Wild” a delight.

Instead gamers choose to play as Link, Zelda, Impa or a host of other characters, fighting head to head, shooting arrows and conjuring magic to take down massive armies in epic battles. There is a lot of button mashing.

“During development we’re always thinking about what would make Zelda series fans happy,” said Hayashi. “While we’re not sure how popular this game will become, we’d be happy if the Breath of the Wild fans found it fun.”

The game costs $59.99 and is part of the company’s holiday lineup. Nintendo previously released a demo version for fans to try out.

This won’t be the last we see of “Zelda.” Last year, Nintendo announced “Breath of the Wild” will get a sequel, although no release date has been announced.