At the time of writing, the Wii U may be yet to play host to a brand-new, original mainline Zelda title — Breath of the Wild will be one of the last retail titles for the system — but it’s home to one of the best spin-offs the series has seen.
Unlike its stablemate Super Mario, Zelda actually hasn’t seen all that many spin-offs over the years, with only Link’s Crossbow Training on Wii and the two atrocious CD-i titles springing immediately to mind. This is perhaps because Zelda is an inherently more “serious” affair than Super Mario — sure, it has its moments of levity, but it’s always been less focused on cartoon silliness and as such it would be rather strange to see perpetual protagonist Link doing things outside his normal remit such as playing tennis or golf. (That, of course, didn’t stop him making an appearance in Mario Kart 8, but that was something of an outlier.)
That doesn’t mean that there isn’t scope for the series to explore gameplay styles outside the mainline titles’ “explore, dungeon, puzzle, boss” formula, and Hyrule Warriors is a potent proof of concept that demonstrates the ensemble cast the series has built up over the years is more than strong enough to carry a game that doesn’t focus exclusively on Link.