Prediction: Nintendo Direct Will Set Release Dates for Q2, Show Wind Waker Wii U and Zelda 3DS

We asked for your predictions for tomorrow’s Nintendo Direct – here’s one of ours!

After last month’s Wii U Direct, I think we’re all done with big Wii U announcements for awhile. And frankly, I’m fine with that – it’s unlikely that any big surprises are coming within the next quarter, and Nintendo needs to save something big for E3 besides the already-expected 3D Mario, Mario Kart, and Smash Bros. announcements. And that’s fine – E3 should be Wii U’s moment to shine, to prove itself as a serious competitor for the next generation.

That’s why I think that, if anything, the Nintendo Direct set for tomorrow, February 14 is going to feature mostly confirmations related to titles we’ve already seen – specifically, release dates for the Q2 catalog… because it’s time to figure out when all those “launch window” games are actually coming out.

But I think Nintendo would be remiss not to feature some kind of major announcement or serious news at the presentation, and if any system needs a big confidence boost at this point, it’s Nintendo 3DS. And while I think some new Pokémon X & Y news would do nicely in that department, a new game reveal would be even better. That’s why I think tomorrow, during the first Nintendo Direct following the announcement of Wind Waker Wii U, we’ll finally get our first look at Zelda 3DS.

oot-3d-e3-2010It’s been an unusually long time since we had an announcement for a new Zelda on a handheld platform – the last time we saw one was Ocarina of Time 3D‘s debut at E3 2010, almost three years ago (the Four Swords 25th Anniversary update doesn’t count). That’s a bit odd, considering we know that the game – whatever it is – has been in the works at least since the summer of 2011, based on interviews with Eiji Aonuma dating from around that time.

Here’s a quote from a Game Informer interview conducted around the time of E3 2011:

I’ll give you one hint, but maybe you won’t understand it. It will be a game in which having 3D will mean something.

This doesn’t sound like a game idea that they were just tossing around – it sounds like an established, possibly already-in-development concept that they were ready to move forward with after completing Skyward Sword.

I won’t speculate too much about what this hint might mean – I’d probably get it wrong anyway – but I think the team is probably further along in development than most people have guessed. And unless Nintendo has something totally unprecedented up its sleeve – a new IP, a new handheld Metroid game, or the like – now is the time to unveil the new Zelda for 3DS.

Besides, it’s kind of a tradition, isn’t it? The last few handheld Zelda titles have all been unveiled at around this time of year, though they’ve usually made appearances at the GDC convention. With GDC trying to step away from the eye of the press and focus more on what it’s intended to be – a developer gathering that focuses on workshops and networking, not necessarily promoting new products – I think Nintendo could look to this month’s Nintendo Direct as a substitute venue for the next Zelda handheld reveal.

I don’t necessarily think we’ll get a lot – probably nothing more significant than we saw for Wind Waker Wii U last time around – but even just a short teaser would be enough to get people excited.

Besides, interest in the series is already on the rise thanks to the recent announcement of Wind Waker Wii U and those few brief hints at how the first original Wii U game is proceeding. What better way to stimulate that interest than by following up the Wind Waker reveal with yet another new game – perhaps one that this time will be shown in tangible form?

WiiU_ZeldaWindWaker_Scrn02Speaking of Wind Waker Wii U, I imagine we’ll get a closer look at it as well. It’s targeted for a fall 2013 release date, which means development is surely well underway. They’ve got to have something more to show than a few stills from a single scene. I think we could see its Wii U exclusive features in action, as well as a brief trailer to show how the game is progressing.

However, I doubt we’ll see the brand-new Zelda Wii U that Eiji Aonuma mentioned this year – maybe a teaser image like the artwork for Skyward Sword at E3 2009 or a concept trailer to show off the visual style like Twilight Princess‘s 2004 debut. This year is the year for Mario and Smash Bros. and whatever Retro Studios has cooking to have the spotlight, to give the Wii U the kick in the pants it needs to have a strong 2013.

And that’s fine. I don’t want them to try to reveal too much about the game until it’s ready.

But while E3 will be a good place for those games to have the limelight, 3DS needs its share of glory, too – and that means something to look forward to apart from Animal Crossing and Pokémon X & Y. Zelda 3DS could be just the ticket. I think it’s probably stewed long enough.

All the News from the Last Nintendo Direct: