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Cadence of Hyrule and the Biggest Indie Crossover of the 21st Century

When Vancouver-based Brace Yourself Games teamed up with composer Danny Baranowsky to make their indie rhythm-based dungeon crawler, Crypt of the NecroDancer quickly became a fan favorite. Now, 4 years later, it is still played by thousands, and it is a much beloved part of the speedrunning community. 

Last week, to mark the end of the Electronics Entertainment Expo of 2019, Nintendo and Brace Yourself Games launched Cadence of Hyrule: Crypt of the NecroDancer Featuring The Legend of Zelda. 

Nintendo and Friends

Cadence of Hyrule caught the world by surprise as Nintendo is not very well known for allowing other folks to play around with their intellectual property. To date, there have been just shy of a dozen games that take place within the Legend of Zelda universe, and most of them are considered the forgotten history of the franchise. 

Cadence of Hyrule gameplay: Link and Zelda attack enemies in a forest map.

Titles like three seperate CD-i games that will continue to be the butt of all Zelda jokes, and the niche but loved Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons for the Game Boy Color. The long life of this property has seen many ups and downs. 

Even the majority of Nintendo’s re-releases and remasters are made internally at Nintendo with one team or another. 

Fortunately, it’s a good time to be a Zelda fan. With the upcoming remake of The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening coming to the Nintendo Switch and really interesting off-shoots like Cadence of Hyrule, it feels like the Nintendo of today is better tapped in to how to satiate fans in between huge new franchise iterations. 


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A Crypt for a Dungeon 

The idea that someone could mix up the idea of a dungeon crawler with the on-rhythm input mechanic looks terrible on paper, but it turns out to be one of the most fun and interesting tweaks on a common game-type. 

In a world saturated by dungeon crawling rpgs, or rogue-likes, Crypt of the NecroDancer came at the perfect time to shake it all up. Movements, attacks, and interactions can only be made on the beat of the track and the world only moves on those same beats. This makes the experience of the Crypt of NecroDancer something extremely different and clinically paced. 

Cadence of Hyrule gameplay: Cadence battles a group of enemies on a foggy map.

Through worlds of dank caves and spooky forests, Crypt of the NecroDancer also brought to the mainstream indie scene a stellar soundtrack and a gameplay loop that both focuses on it and celebrates it. 

Cadence of Hyrule

The word “cadence” means the modulation or inflection of a voice, or more particularly relevant in this case, the sequence of notes or chords comprising the close of a musical phrase. 

One of the most celebrated franchises in video game history is also one of the most beloved games in terms of soundtrack and music. This long-standing history of beautiful music throughout the Legend of Zelda franchise, makes it an extremely beautiful mix with the game type of Crypt of the NecroDancer. 

In Cadence of Hyrule, players can take charge of the characters from NecroDancer, or they can play as Link and Zelda from the Nintendo franchise. Brace Yourself Games brought back legendary indie composer Danny Baranowsky to refresh and give that Crypt feel to classic and wonderfully thematic Legend of Zelda tracks. 

The art of Cadence of Hyrule is also a major standout, bringing a bit of a Link’s Awakening vibe to the fan-favorite Crypt of the NecroDancer art-style and feel. 

Looking at it from this angle, it’s hard to think of another pairing that could have been even remotely as good as Brace Yourself Games and Nintendo. 

Cadence of Hyrule is available now for the Nintendo Switch and retails for $24.95.