The original Super Smash Bros was a groundbreaking game for Nintendo (NASDAQOTH:NTDOY). Created by second-party studio HAL Laboratory as a way to enter the traditionally difficult fighting game genre, the first prototype of the game was made without Nintendo's knowledge because creator Masahiro Sakurai feared that the company wouldn't allow the developer to create a fighting game with its characters. Fortunately, the company eventually allowed Sakurai to move forward with the game based on his highly polished and balanced prototype.
Super Smash Bros for the N64 managed to succeed where so many other fighting games have failed, making a name for itself and launching a very successful franchise that will see its fourth release later this year. Given the difficulties that Nintendo has seen in recent years, especially in regard to the lackluster sales of its Wii U console, that's just the sort of game that the company would like to create again ... one that draws in players, holds their interest, and has them wanting to know when the next entry in the series will be released each time a new console hits the market.
Could the company find such a game in the upcoming Hyrule Warriors?
Something old, something new
While at first glance Hyrule Warriors might seem like a part of the "Legend of Zelda" series, it seems to have its own unique feel upon closer inspection. This is due largely to the fact that it is somewhat of a hybrid between Nintendo's "Zelda" games and Omega Force's "Dynasty Warriors" series.
The game will contain well-known "Zelda" characters and monsters, but will focus on beat-em-up gameplay as seen in the "Warriors" games. This amalgamation of the two franchises has the potential to draw in players who might not have been fans of one franchise or the other, potentially increasing sales more than if it were a straight "Zelda" title.
The combination also allows the game to offer new elements such as two-player co-op gameplay and the ability to play as characters other than just Link. Recurring "Zelda" character Impa is also playable in the game, and it is possible that additional characters could be added as alternate starting characters, unlockables, or even DLC to fuel replayability down the line.
If Hyrule Warriors proves popular, there are two directions that Nintendo could take a potential franchise.
One would be the obvious path of straight sequels. This would give the company a more action-oriented "Zelda"-based IP that would appeal to those who desired more hack-and-slash gameplay and less solving block puzzles and running back and forth performing RPG-like tasks. Taking this route would all but certainly lead to a boost in game sales, since both "Zelda" fans and those who enjoy beat-em-ups would be drawn to the title.
The other franchise option would be to take the same premise but to create games using other Nintendo IP options. This would be similar to what Nintendo is doing with Yarn Yoshi, the follow-up to 2010's Kirby's Epic Yarn. This would be the harder path to take, but it could draw attention in the same way that Super Smash Bros did; after all, massive fights starring well-known Nintendo characters would definitely be something to see. The problem is that not all of Nintendo's IP would be suited for this sort of a game. Star Fox and Samus Aran would likely be able to pull it off, but Mario stomping on waves of Goombas would likely loose its appeal pretty quickly.
Still, either option would give Nintendo fans a new series to look forward to, and that would be a good thing considering that the company is largely propped up by the strength of its exclusives. (If nothing else, this is proven by the number of people who say that Nintendo should start releasing its games as a third-party publisher for other consoles.)
Will the Warriors rule?
Right now, Super Smash Bros is one of the biggest draws that Nintendo has in its upcoming slate. Between it and Mario Kart 8, the company will likely see a bump in Wii U sales simply because of the strength of the franchises. Nintendo needs more franchises with that sort of appeal, and Hyrule Warriors definitely has a chance of making fans of its own when it's released. While it won't necessarily move consoles now, if it proves popular enough then it could be another must-have for Nintendo's next console.
If it's a solid game, it will also add to the Wii U's value proposition around the holidays and into next year. The more high-quality games the console has, the more value it will have as a "cheap" buy (especially in the future, when additional price cuts could occur). By the time the next "real" game in the "Zelda" franchise is released, it might even have the legacy of its "sister" franchise to live up to.