It’s hard to believe Nintendo hasn’t had a full Nintendo Direct presentation since August 19, 2019. Since then, Nintendo has released “Nintendo Direct Mini’s,” Indie World Directs, and franchise-focused Directs like for Pokemon as well as Mario’s 35th anniversary.

For the first time in nearly 18 months, Nintendo will release a full-length Direct on February 17 at 5 PM Eastern Time / 2 PM Pacific Time.

With the Switch’s first-party release schedule looking thin for the rest of 2021, this Direct could provide a sense of direction.

First and foremost, Nintendo of America’s tweet says the 50-minute broadcast will focus on information on current available games, such as Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. This seems to imply a character will be revealed during the presentation, although maybe something broader like a new mode is also possible. What other already-released games could receive new attention is anyone’s guess, but Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity, and Pikmin 3 Deluxe all could be candidates for an upgrade or some new DLC. Perhaps the new information could even be on Super Mario 3D All-Stars, bringing Super Mario Galaxy 2 in to the fray as either free or paid DLC.

Nintendo will then shift their focus to future Switch titles coming in the first half of 2021. This implies we won’t hear much about the Switch’s 2021 holiday release schedule, but rather games coming in the next two to five months.

Confirmed 2021 First Half Games

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New Pokemon Snap: Releasing April 30, 2021, this sequel to the original 1999 Nintendo 64 game Pokemon Snap is a shoo-in to be featured in this upcoming Direct, As the next major first-party release on the docket, expect a full trailer and possibly some extended gameplay, introducing and highlighting new elements of the upcoming game. I’d also expect something flashy, such as the reveal of one or more legendary Pokemon in the game.

Other Previously Confirmed Games

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While details are scarce so far, Metroid Prime 4, a sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breathe of the Wild 2, and the Platinum Games-produced Bayonetta 2 have all been previously confirmed for the Switch. This Direct is slated to focus on games coming in the first half of 2021, so I wouldn’t expect Metroid Prime 4 or Breathe of the Wild 2 to be prominently featured this time around. I do think, however, a short teaser, title card, or even release window for one of these two games could be possible. With virtually nothing on Nintendo’s release schedule for second half of 2021, something to look forward to may be necessary.

Zelda 35th Anniversary

The elephant in the room for February 17’s Nintendo Direct is what occurs on February 21: the 35th anniversary of the Legend of Zelda franchise. After the treatment the Super Mario franchise recently received for its 35th anniversary, it’s only natural Link and the Legend of Zelda series would be due for a similar (if not slightly smaller) treatment.

The first question is: would Zelda 35th Anniversary announcements be made on Wednesday, or would Nintendo hold off for an entirely Zelda-focused Direct? They could go either way, but for now, we’ll speculate about reveals that could come during this Direct.

The previously mentioned Breathe of the Wild sequel would be a no-brainer to showcase during Zelda’s 35th anniversary. Fans have also speculated about the possibility of a collection of old games ported to and/or remastered on the Switch ala Super Mario 3D All-Stars.

Imagine a package bundling Ocarina of Time, Wind Waker, and Twilight Princess on one cartridge. This type of package would mirror 3D All-Stars with releases from the Nintendo 64, Nintendo Gamecube, and Nintendo Wii. It would probably be difficult for Nintendo to include every 3D Zelda game on one cartridge, just as 3D All-Stars omitted Super Mario Galaxy 2. The package also technically omitted Super Mario 3D World, but that game was ported to the Switch as a full release with the additional Bowser’s Fury story. Essentially, in this scenario, a game like Skyward Sword could fill that role, getting a fleshed out re-release alongside the package which features a trio of 3D games. Drawing more parallels, Majora’s Mask may unfortunately be left as the “Super Mario Galaxy 2” of the franchise, getting left out entirely.

Some fans are even asking of direct ports of Wind Waker HD or Twilight Princess HD from the Wii U to the Switch. While plenty of Wii U games have been upgraded for the Switch, it seems quite early for a port of an enhanced remake to pop up on the Switch for retail price. However, perhaps the already slightly-enhanced Wii U versions could be featured in a package of two or three games.

Of course, the possibility remains Nintendo does something else entirely and doesn’t follow the model of Super Mario’s 35th anniversary. Either way, Zelda news is definitely on the immediate horizon.

New and Unannounced Games

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The most exciting thing we could see during the Nintendo Direct is the debut of brand new, previously unannounced games. What these games could be is anyone’s guess of course, as the possibilities are endless.

Some fans are clamoring for Mario Kart 9, a full-fledged Switch version of the popular racing franchise as opposed to the enhanced port that is Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. A sequel to Super Mario Odyssey, or an otherwise new 3D Mario, has also been requested by many fans in comment sections. Both games seem unlikely right now: Mario Kart 8 Deluxe continues to sell well and could easily just get DLC treatment, and while Super Mario Odyssey will turn four years old in 2021, 3D Mario fans just enjoyed the releases of Super Mario 3D All-Stars and Super Mario 3D World+Bowser’s Fury. While the next brand new 3D Mario entry is an exciting prospect, we may have to wait longer to see a reveal on that front.

Purely speculating, some franchises that could be due to receive attention on the Switch could include:

  • Pikmin 4: Off the heels of October’s Pikmin 3 Deluxe release, now would be a perfect time to unveil the next entry in the Pikmin franchise, for release in late 2021 or early 2022.
  • Star Fox (or Star Fox Zero Port): Star Fox has been a long-neglected Nintendo franchise, with only one non-remake entry released since 2006. While Star Fox 64 3D was released for the 3DS in 2011, Star Fox Zero’s 2016 Wii U release has been the franchise’s only brand new offering in the last 15 years. The Switch’s unique design, as well as an increased public focus on space, could make 2021-22 a prime time to release a new Star Fox game. On the flip side, Nintendo could continue porting Wii U games to the Switch, bringing Star Fox Zero forward to the current generation.
  • Donkey Kong, F-Zero, Wario, Kid Icarus, Kirby, etc: Again, there’s an endless possibilities of what Nintendo could announce. A 3D Donkey Kong game and proper successor to Donkey Kong 64 has been a longtime wish of mine. F-Zero hasn’t had a new entry since the GameCube. After a well-received 3DS revival, Kid Icarus could be an interesting IP to bring to the Switch. A new WarioWare game, 3D platformer like Wario World, or new take on Wario entirely could also be in the works. Kirby has received some attention on the Switch, but what about Kirby Air Ride 2 or even a remake of the GameCube cult classic.
  • More Wii U Ports: Eventually, Nintendo will port all 782 games released on the Wii U to the Switch. Kidding of course, but Nintendo has already shown they’re not shy to move over games from last generation’s relatively poorly-selling console. The strategy has worked to great success so far, but Nintendo is running out of major first-party titles to give the same treatment. Star Fox Zero, The Wonderful 101, and the Legend of Zelda Wind Waker and Twilight Princess are a few remaining titles Nintendo could port to the current generation.

Last but not least, Nintendo could unveil a game based on a new intellectual property. ARMS and Splatoon are recent examples of Nintendo expanding their creativity with new franchises, and it may be time for Nintendo to announce a new Switch title that isn’t based on previously existing characters.

What Would You Like to See?

What character would you like to see revealed for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate? What does your dream three-game Legend of Zelda package on the Switch look like? What new games would you like to see revealed? To join the conversation, be sure to visit Nintendo Plaza on Twitter.


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