Cadence of Hyrule is a Zelda rhythm game that asks you to move to the beat

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One of this year’s weirdest and most unexpected collaborations in gaming reimagines a classic Nintendo formula with killer music, dance-infused combat, and a wholesome nostalgic throwback to the pre-3D era of Zelda. It’s called Cadence of Hyrulefrom Crypt of the NecroDancer developer Brace Yourself Games, and it’s a rhythm roguelike game where your fighting ability depends on your ability to move to the beat of the music. The game was released today on Nintendo Switch for $24.99.

I have to spend time with Cadence of Hyrule earlier this year, and the game is a satisfying crossover that should win over longtime Zelda fans, while also giving the roguelike crowd something truly one-of-a-kind. It’s not so true Zelda game because it’s a Zelda remix of Crypt of the NecroDancerthe 2015 indie hit that included for the first time a metronomic meter that rewarded you for staying in time and punished you for wrong tempo.

In fact, the full title of the game is Cadence of Hyrule – Crypt of the NecroDancer with The Legend of Zelda, evoking a riff on the original more than a full-fledged spin-off or sequel. That said, I very easily see it straddling the line between the hardcore and roguelike crowd hungry for more. Necrodancer and traditional Zelda fans who will love it for its art style, music and for the classic environments, enemies and treasure to discover.

Cadence of Hyrule is much less punitive than Crypt of the NecroDancer, but it’s still surprisingly difficult for a Nintendo title, with each screen featuring dozens of on-screen enemies that must be dispatched with perfect timing. Brace Yourself Games has changed its approach a bit so that even unsuccessful runs that end in death are rewarding for players, as you’ll collect enough diamonds to unlock permanent upgrades that way. The game will also disable beat-matching requirements when clearing a screen, so you can explore as you would in the overworld of a classic. Zelda Title.

Aesthetically, the game looks a lot like Crypt of the NecroDancerwhich was itself a retro-inspired pixel art game, if you mix and mingle its music and art style with class up and down Zelda approach to A link to the past and Link’s Awakening. I have to say the music is fantastic, adding fun, dance and rock beats at a breakneck pace. Zelda tunes any longtime fan will instantly recognize. The same goes for enemies, which include adorably chibi versions of your brand Bokoblins, Stalfos, and Chuchus, among other classics. Zelda enemies.

But when it comes to core gameplay, Cadence of Hyrule is still a roguelike with a procedurally generated dungeon design and a random overworld. Brace Yourself Games wants it to play like Necrodancer, the idea being that you will go through it several times. The game also lets you choose between playing as Link or Zelda (and sometimes brings Necrodancer protagonist Cadence), each character having a unique approach to combat. Link has a shield while Zelda uses Triforce magic, and mastering both seems to take some practice.

Yet more than anything, Cadence of Hyrule is proof of the creative breakthroughs you can achieve when you’re ready to combine fresh, original, and ambitious game design with a property as established and fiercely guarded as Zelda. Nintendo has gotten more exploratory with its most important properties lately, partnering with Ubisoft to Mario + Rabbids and do the Dynasty Warriors-inspired Hyrule Warriors with Koei Tecmo. But the company can go so much further by letting outside game developers, especially those in the indie realm, play with beloved characters like Link and Mario.

It’s that kind of mindset that’s given us rare gems like the beloved SNES classic. RPG Super Mario. So it’s good to see Nintendo embracing it again with Cadence of Hyrule in the era of the Switch, which has become as much a gateway to the world of indie gaming as it has become a flagship Nintendo console. It’s this dual purpose of the device that makes it all the more refreshing to see these two worlds come together in a crossover as delightfully weird and fun as Cadence of Hyrule.

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