Rumor has it Nintendo will host two major Nintendo Direct livestreams that involve one or more major game announcements in February. While we expect one Nintendo Direct dedicated to Animal Crossing: New Horizons, which is scheduled for release on March 20, plans for the second Nintendo Direct remain veiled in secrecy.
Are we mere weeks away from a major announcement that could blow our minds?
Nintendo and its partners have a roster of games with 2020 release windows but no concrete launch date. If chatter from insiders about upcoming Direct announcements is accurate, which of the company’s iconic series could take the spotlight? More importantly, could this mean that we'll get another major Nintendo release sometime this year?
Here’s a breakdown of all the potential games Nintendo might announce in February, ranked from most to least likely (and also, by coincidence, from least to most exciting):
5. Mario Kart 9
Reputable leaker Sabi tweeted earlier this week that development on the Breath of the Wild sequel is moving along slower than expected. While the E3 2019 teaser trailer implied the game might be out in 2020, that no longer seems the case. Sabi strongly hinted at the possibility that development on Mario Kart 9 may have been jumpstarted to take its place as a major Nintendo release in 2020.
“BotW 2 [is] taking longer than anticipated back during E3 2019, so it doesn’t seem to be this year’s holiday release,” they tweeted. “Which adds more credence to the major title I was referencing on a tweet the other day, [Paper Mario]. Neither is set in stone yet so take some salt. The more likely one has ... tires.”
To be clear, Mario Kart 9 hasn’t been confirmed yet, but it’s been nearly six years since Nintendo released a brand-new version of its circuit racer. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (2017) was a port of the Wii U title Mario Kart 8 (2014) and still managed to become the fastest-selling game in the franchise's history. It’s easy to imagine that Nintendo has plans for a new Mario Kart made specifically for the Switch.
4. Bayonetta 3
Everyone’s favorite shape-shifting witch is ready for her monumental comeback. Bayonetta 3 could soon receive a release date based on the juicy teasers Platinum Games dropped earlier in January.
Studio head Atsushi Inaba told Inside Games that fans could “expect to see more soon,” referring to the long-awaited follow-up to Bayonetta 2 (2014). Nintendo quietly pushed back the upcoming title’s release from “2019” to “TBA” in April of 2019. That came after the initial announcement trailer was released all the way back in January 2017. Revealing a release date could make up for that road bump.
Platinum Games founder Hideki Kamiya confirmed to Famitsu in January 2020 that progress on Bayonetta 3 was going smoothly, but also referred to 2020 as a time of "upheaval" for the company and that there were many interesting things planned.
"It’s a super secret so I can’t say," Hideki confessed.
Does that mean we're in for some kind of surprise reveal later this month?
3. No More Heroes III
After years of speculation, the fourth installment of the hack-and-slash franchise was announced at E3 2019. Protagonist Travis Touchdown will make a triumphant return following a 10-year hiatus, but when will fans finally receive a confirmed release date?
Nintendo announced that the game will be a Switch-exclusive dropping in 2020 when it released a cinematic trailer in December, but the company has yet to reveal exactly when the title will arrive. For this and other releases confirmed for 2020, February would be the optimal time to put a date on the calendar for when the game might finally launch.
2. Metroid Prime Trilogy
Sorry Metroid Prime 4 hopefuls, Samus’ next epic adventure is likely nowhere near complete after Nintendo scrapped its progress and restarted its development in partnership with Retro Studios. However, fans of the armored bounty hunter might receive a batch of remakes to fill the Ridley-sized hole in their hearts.
“Nintendo is planning 2 new Metroid titles that will release in the next two fiscal years respectively,” gaming insider Leaky Pandy tweeted in November 2019. “One is a re-release of Metroid Prime Trilogy HD, the second one is a Super Metroid Remake that mimics Samus Returns in style and scope.”
The leaker has a decent track record for inside scoops on Nintendo, having correctly predicted that Banjo & Kazooie would join the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate roster a week before the company announced it at E3 2019.
Assuming Leaky Pandy is correct, we should have a Metroid game before the end of 2020. It won't be a full entry in the Metroid franchise, but at least Samus will finally make it onto the Switch in her own game.
1. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2
There have been conflicting rumors about the current state of BotW 2. So some kind of announcement in February — even if it's just a quick update — could clear the air.
Sabi claimed in early 2020 that the much-hyped sequel is experiencing some internal delays and won't be available before the end of the year, but a separate leak states a trailer would be released “relatively soon.”
Multiple Nintendo job openings suggest the sequel is coming along steadily, but we're inclined to trust Sabi, who accurately leaked a majority of the E3 2019 press conferences before they were confirmed. So while we would do well to remain skeptical of speculation like this, it feels more legit than something like sketchy details from an anonymous source that wound up on 4chan.
We can take it as almost a certainty that Nintendo won't release BotW 2 this year, but given the tremendous success of the first game, it'll be a priority moving forward in terms of major updates and announcements for Nintendo. Mid-February will mark 8 months since the E3 2019 teaser was released, so we might be due for some kind of update about the game, even if it's merely a release date confirmation designed to build hype for one of the most exciting games in the company's pipeline.