It’s a big year for Nintendo. Several popular franchises are hitting anniversary milestones, which means that celebrations seem imminent. While Pokémon will celebrate 25 years of pocket monsters in 2021, all eyes are on Link as The Legend of Zelda crosses the 35-year mark.
If last year’s Mario birthday bash is any indication, fans could be in for a huge year of Zelda with new games, re-releases, and surprises. Clues are already starting to pile up, and they sending everyone's hopes sky-high. While that’s already setting some up for inevitable disappointment, it’s not stopping us from speculating on what could be in the pipeline for 2021. Here are five plausible announcements that could happen during Zelda’s 35th anniversary.
5. Breath of the Wild 2 release date announcement
We already know The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2 is coming. The question is just when? Considering that we’ve only seen a brief teaser for it, it’s impossible to tell exactly how far along the game is. The lack of information might lead some to believe it’s still years off, with a 2022 release date at the earliest. However, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Nintendo has been keeping it secret so it can have some sort of grand unveiling be part of the 35th-anniversary celebrations.
In recent years, Nintendo has clamped down on its marketing cycle. Instead of announcing games years in advance, it tends to reveal them when they’re ready to go. We saw that with Paper Mario: The Origami King and Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity last year, with both games getting announced and then released months later.
At this point, it’s possible that Nintendo is withholding any details about the game until it’s ready to go. That means that we could get a full-fledged announcement out of nowhere this year with a holiday 2021 release window. Considering that the Switch had few major titles besides Animal Crossing: New Horizons in 2020, a big game like Breath of the Wild 2 feels imminent.
4. Zelda 3D All-Stars
The biggest announcement from Mario’s 35th anniversary Direct was Super Mario 3D All-Stars. The Switch collection featured three platforming classics in one place and was a hot seller for Nintendo. It’s possible that we could see a repeat of that trick for Zelda … though the question is which games?
We may have a small hint. Nintendo filed new trademarks for Wind Waker and Phantom Hourglass in Australia in February 2021, so it seems possible that those games are getting some form of rerelease. It’s easy to imagine a Zelda pack that focuses on Toon Link’s adventures, packing those two games together with The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks. A sort of toon trilogy would be a welcome surprise that would revive some lesser-played Nintendo DS classics.
3. Skyward Sword on Switch
Getting The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword on Switch may seem like a pipe dream, but there’s actually some evidence to support it. In August 2020, a listing for a Switch port suddenly popped up, making fans think an announcement was imminent. That never happened, but it doesn’t mean the project isn’t in the works.
Skyward Sword on Switch just seems like a no-brainer. The Nintendo Wii game heavily featured motion controls, which can be replicated with the Joy-cons. With Super Mario Galaxy making the jump to the console last year, it seems entirely possible that Skyward Sword could follow suit.
2. A new Super Smash Bros. Ultimate fighter
There are three more characters left on Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’s Fighter Pass 2, and fans have plenty of wild ideas about who could be coming to the fighter next. While Waluigi or Geno would be fun, there’s a more practical answer: any Zelda character.
Super Smash Bros. character additions are as much a marketing consideration as anything. When Byleth came to the game, it was more or less a way to promote Fire Emblem: Three Houses. If there’s a big Zelda bash planned in 2021, it’s entirely possible that Nintendo will drop a classic character to coordinate with the festivities. Considering that Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity features 18 playable heroes, there’s no shortage of champions to choose from.
1. Special edition Zelda Switch
Let’s end with the most practical guess: we’ll probably get some sort of special edition Zelda Switch. The Animal Crossing: New Horizons console was a hot commodity for Nintendo, and it's already starting to double down on that strategy. You can grab a Fortnite-themed console right now (if you can find one) and there’s a new red and blue Mario Switch out in the world now too. Slap a Triforce on the dock and you’ve got yourself an obvious special edition.
That might not be the most groundbreaking announcement, but it’s the kind of realistic expectation that fans should set. Hopefully the more exciting guesses we laid out come to fruition alongside the more obvious ones.