We could be in for a host of The Legend of Zelda game announcements in the coming months, as we enter the 35th anniversary of Nintendo’s flagship franchise (which falls on February 21, 2021).
The beloved game developer and console maker certainly pulled out the stops last year, when it came to the 35th anniversary of its first Mario game, with a collection of 3D Mario games for Nintendo Switch, a retro battle royale title, and a new Bowser’s Fury mode for the Super Mario 3D World port on Switch.
We can’t imagine Nintendo would slack for its other headline franchise, which means there should be plenty of Zelda-related announcements in the year to come – but what exactly do we think Nintendo has up its sleeve, other than that Breath of the Wild 2 game we’ve heard nary a peep about since a trailer dropped at E3 2019?
We’ve brought together our 10 best predictions for Nintendo’s nefarious plans, from new AAA games to ports of old favorites. Here’s everything we want to see for The Legend of Zelda’s 35th anniversary.
1. Breath of the Wild 2
Let’s start with an easy one. Nintendo has already confirmed a sequel to the masterful Breath of the Wild game, which was the headline launch title for Nintendo Switch, is coming in the near future.
We know it’s a direct sequel to Breath of the Wild, with plenty of hints in its teaser trailer as to recurring enemies we might see from previous games: the Twili from Twilight Princess, mini-boss Zant from the same game, or even the big bad Demise from Skyward Sword (more on this below).
Given the trailer dropped in mid-2019 during the E3 expo, we’re well due an update on its development, and the franchise’s 35th anniversary would be the perfect time to release Breath of the Wild 2. There have been a good handful of rumors around an upgraded Nintendo Switch Pro console, too, which could sport 4K upscaling for TV output as well as a beefed-up handheld experience, and what better way to launch new hardware than with an AAA Zelda experience?
Check out more in our Breath of the Wild 2 guide.
2. Skyward Sword port for Nintendo Switch
Not everyone got to play Skyward Sword, landing as it did on the much-maligned Wii U console. Nintendo has had great success in porting its best Wii U games onto the bestselling Switch and Switch Lite consoles, though, and Amazon even put up (and swiftly pulled) a listing for a Skyward Sword port back in 2020 – which makes this prediction feel pretty likely.
The game takes place in the floating city of Skyloft, a refuge for humanity far above the ravaged ‘Surface’ that was stricken by evil forces centuries before. A port would certainly give the game a new set of fans, on a console with suitable motion capability.
Most crucially, though, Skyward Sword lays the foundations for the mythology surrounding series villain Ganondorf – and his alter-ego, the demon king ‘Demise’, who we may have got a glimpse of in the Breath of the Wild 2 trailer. What better way to prep for a BOTW 2 sequel than a refresh of some background lore?
3. Collection of 3D games
Mario got his Mario 3D All Stars Collection, so why shouldn’t Link get the same treatment? There’s a host of 3D games that Nintendo could package together on Switch, though a variety of console generations are likely. Maybe Ocarina of Time (Nintendo 64), Twilight Princess (GameCube/Wii), and Skyward Sword (Wii/Wii U) all together?
Whatever happens, we’re certain we’ll be painfully aware of any absences – and could absolutely see the incredible cel-shaded Wind Waker getting left out in the cold.
Let’s just hope Nintendo doesn’t limit its availability to just a few months, though, as it did with the Mario collection. Seriously, Nindy?
4. Wind Waker HD and Twilight Princess HD double pack
Another track Nintendo could take is a double-pack of Wind Waker and Twilight Princess, both of which got HD upgrades for the Wii U, and shouldn’t be a huge task to port to the Nintendo Switch console. As both originally launched on the Nintendo GameCube, it would be a suitable pairing, while offering two Zelda titles totally distinct in visual style – Wind Waker using a cel-shaded cartoon aesthetic and the ‘Toon Link’ you’ll know from Smash Bros Ultimate, and Twilight Princess acting as the more moody, cinematic elder sibling.
While only releasing three years apart, they couldn’t be more different, with the former taking place in a talking sailboat that takes you across the seas, and the latter showing a Hyrule that’s descended into shadow after invasion from a twilight realm. They’d be a great combo, then, to show the range that the Zelda series has to offer.
There’s currently a paucity of legacy Zelda games on the latest console generation, and this 35th anniversary feels like the obvious time to amend that.
5. A Link to the Past remake
One of the best, and cutest Nintendo Switch games we saw last year was Link’s Awakening, a remake of the 1993 GameBoy title – given a modern makeover with enhanced 3D (if still top-down) visuals. The door is wide open, then, for another Zelda game to get similar treatment, and we think A Link to the Past is an obvious choice.
This 1991 game was first released on the SNES, as the third title in the Zelda series, and marks the first appearance of the iconic Master Sword. It’s available to play for Nintendo Switch Online subscribers in its original format, but something of a touch-up certainly wouldn’t go amiss. Including the Four Swords multiplayer adventure mode would only sweeten the deal too.
6. Special edition consoles and Joy-Cons
It’s a commemorative event, and it’s Nintendo: no-one would be surprised to see some dedicated console or Joy-Con skins to mark the occasion. We got as much in early 2021 for Mario, with the blue-and-red reskin of the mainline Switch console – and similar green-and-gold combo with some sword-and-shield iconography from the series would make gaming at home all the more… Zelda-y.
7. More free Zelda games on Nintendo Switch Online
Nintendo is running out of NES and SNES titles to add to its Nintendo Switch Online service, often going several months at a time without new software joining its dedicated emulator for classic games – and it’s about time we started seeing some other platforms join the fray.
For the GameBoy family of handhelds, we could see The Minish Cap (GameBoy Advance) or a pairing of Oracle of Seasons / Oracle of Ages (GameBoy Color) making an appearance; if Nintendo dared (gasp!) to bring a 3D Zelda game to the service, then maybe even Majora’s Mask or Ocarina of Time from the Nintendo 64 could appear.
We’re not holding out, though, given that a slow release of remastered and full-price remakes would be far more lucrative for Nintendo in the long run – though its recent foot-dragging around new games on the service could point to a bigger launch of titles from another platform in the near future.
8. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate DLC fighters
There are two things we don’t know: one, what Nintendo’s Zelda anniversary announcements this year will be, and two, what Smash Bros Ultimate DLC fighters are yet to come to the popular fighting game. Could it be that the announcements overlap?
There are only three DLC characters yet to be unveiled in Smash Bros Ultimate, and while the Zelda series is pretty well represented already – with the likes of Link, Young Link, Zelda, Toon Link, Sheik, and Ganondorf on the roster – there are certainly some quirkier side characters that would make great additions in their own right.
The delusional fairy enthusiast Tingle, from oh-so-many Zelda game cameos, would certainly bring some rosy-cheeked chaos to the screen. More serious additions could be Midna or Zant from Twilight Princess, especially if they were announced alongside a Switch port.
Midna’s powerful twilight hand, as well as her terrifying multi-fisted form, would be very exciting to throw into the action; villain Zant, on the other hand, with his spin attack and heavy blows, could be a contender in his own right or make an interesting echo fighter based on Ganondorf’s current moveset.
9. The Legend of Zelda battle royale
If you weren’t paying attention around all those Mario announcements, we regret to inform you that there’s a side-scrolling Mario battle royale – and we wouldn’t put it past Nintendo to release a Zelda iteration of some form. Maybe a similarly 2D game where you need to slash opponents off the screen, or a Fortnite copycat that sees hundreds of Links and Zeldas hangliding over Hyrule, shooting off arrows and bombs while hordes of Moblins charge from the horizon… wait, that actually sounds quite good. Let’s do this!
10. The Legend of Zelda AR game
Nintendo had great success with its Pokémon Go AR game, and it’s already inspired plenty of imitations, such as Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, or The Walking Dead: Our World. All we want is a BOTW-inspired version for finding Korok seeds around Hyrule – even if we’re limited to moving between the kitchen and our bed at the moment.